Liberty Bell, Statue of Liberty off-limits as Trump's shutdown closes American icons


Icons and landmarks of American history and pride are now off limits to visitors as the Republican-led shutdown of the federal government takes hold.

Icons of American freedom, liberty, and justice are off limits to the public because of the Republican Party's decision to shut down the federal government.

What the Trump administration described as "cool" is a black eye for America.

Anyone who wants to visit hallowed ground at the Statue of Liberty, the Liberty Bell, and Ford's Theatre (where Abraham Lincoln was assassinated) will be turned away because the federal government does not have the funds to staff them.

The National Park Service manages 417 sites around the country, and because of the Republican shutdown, the agency does not have the manpower to keep open at least a third of those sites, according to the National Parks Conservation Association (NPCA).

Thanks to Republican intransigence, 21,000 park service employees will be furloughed during the shutdown, leaving a miniscule staff of under 3,300 to manage 80 million acres of national park lands.

In a blog post, NCPA notes that the closure includes "places like Ford’s Theatre, the Statue of Liberty, presidential homes, and other historic and cultural sites primarily made up of buildings that can be locked."

The closure, brought on by Donald Trump and the Republican Party's refusal to pass legislation funding children's health or deal with the immigration status of thousands of young undocumented immigrants, will also cancel educational programs and special events like weddings that were scheduled within the park system.

Visitors will also be at risk. Because park rangers are stationed to ensure public safety, their absence will be felt.

"National park visitors regularly undertake vigorous exercise, swimming in ocean currents, hiking trails near thousand-foot drop-offs, navigating remote mountains and canyons, and driving dirt roads many miles from gas stations," the NPCA notes.

Even with a skeleton crew in place because of the shutdown, NCPA explains, "the Park Service puts itself and visitors at risk when it operates without a more complete crew of rangers and staff to ensure the greater attention to safety that parks require."

The shutdown will also impact the funds collected by the park service that contributes to the upkeep of national treasures. During the 16-day 2013 shutdown — also engineered by congressional Republicans — the park service estimated that it lost $7 million in revenue.

Communities around the park system are hurt by closures, as well. In a typical January, there are nearly half a million visitors throughout the park system, spending $19 million in the community. With a shutdown, those businesses lose their revenue.

The closures cause the negative impact of missed maintenance to pile up, adversely affecting premier displays of American history, natural beauty, and national pride.

Vital government agencies were left scrambling as the Republican shutdown approached, and vast swaths of the government are unprepared to deal with the ripple effects. J. David Cox, president of the American Federation of Government Employees, told Politico, "I've never seen such a disorderly, chaotic government shutdown. I've been through several shutdowns and I've never been through one this weird, this crazy."

The entire episode was avoidable, and is an indictment of complete Republican control of the federal government, particularly with Donald Trump at the helm.