A pair of Republican lawmakers criticized the National Parks Service (NPS) for its behavior during the shutdown in a letter sent Tuesday.
Sen. Chuck Grassley (R., Iowa) and Rep. Darrell Issa (R., Calif.), chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, said in a letter to NPS Director Jonathan Jarvis that the response to the shutdown “appears to be ad-hoc, inconsistent, and without sensible guidance to states, local communities, and the public at large.”
Issa and Grassley cited several stories that have emerged since the federal government shut down on Oct. 1, such as NPS blocking viewpoints to Mount Rushmore in South Dakota, not allowing visitors to take pictures of Yellowstone National Park, closing the WWII Memorial while leaving others open, and mistakenly barricading privately-owned parking lots at Mount Vernon.
“Our concern is that the NPS’s actions during the shutdown show a lack of preparation and leadership,” Issa and Grassley wrote. “Further, the NPS has not provided clear and consistent policies on park closures to NPS employees, states, and local stakeholders, and the public at large.”
Grassley and Issa are seeking all documents related to the NPS’ shutdown plans by Oct. 29.
Critics have said that the seemingly arbitrary closures were part of a strategy by the Obama administration to make the government shutdown sting more.
The oversight committee also held a hearing Wednesday on the issue, with Jarvis testifying.
During the hearing, Rep. John Mica (R., Fla.) questioned Jonathan Jarvis on his communications with the White House and the reasoning behind shutting down the monuments. Jarvis said he had spoken with Interior Secretary Sally Jewell and the White House about the shutdown strategy.
“Several times on the phone with the White House I presented with the Secretary my decision, but it was never the reverse,” Jarvis said.