- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 21, 2018

The government shutdown didn’t spoil the experience of visitors this weekend to the World War II Memorial on the National Mall.

The open-air monument, which President Barack Obama barricaded off during the opening days of the 2013 shutdown in what Republicans said was the “weaponization” of a government funding crisis, is open to all this year as part of the Trump administration’s determination to do a shutdown the right way — if such a thing is possible.

President Trump’s top aides said the open-air parks of national parks and monuments would remain open, and be patrolled by police and rangers as usual, though buildings would be shut, bathrooms might not be cleaned and trash wouldn’t be collected.

The Smithsonian planned to be open Monday, the Environmental Protection Agency is largely operational and mine inspectors would be operating at 50 percent — twice the level during the Obama shutdown, the White House said.

“We are going to run and are running the shutdown very differently now than the Obama administration ran it in 2013,” White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney said on the CBS “Face the Nation” program Sunday. “The president has told me, ‘Make sure as many people can go to work on Monday as they can. Make sure you use every tool legally available to you to keep as much of the government open.’ And that’s what we’ll do.”

The shutdown began Saturday morning, minimizing the early effects, since most government employees working the weekends are essential and would have been on the job despite a shutdown.

But as Monday neared, the Trump administration was pushing as many agencies as possible to remain open.

Mr. Mulvaney said the administration has tried to tap more unspent money from previous years to keep the doors open at places such as like the Environmental Protection Agency. It also has deemed some additional areas essential, such as cybersecurity efforts.

Federal employees, including members of the military, who must show up for work will do so without pay — though all sides agreed that they will receive back pay once the shutdown ends.

For the public, the biggest sign of the October 2013 shutdown may have been the national parks, which in much of the country were entering their full autumn glory — yet they were barricaded off. Park authorities wrote tickets to people who jumped the barricades.

One enduring symbol of the 2013 shutdown was the video of veterans pushing through the barricades around the open-air World War II memorial on the National Mall.

Although roads on some parkland, such as the Mount Vernon Memorial Parkway between Alexandria and George Washington’s home in Virginia, were open, the parking lots for joggers were barricaded off.

This year, the parking lots are open.

Anti-Trump organizations were unhappy with the administration’s balance.

“Trying to keep our national parks open without visitor centers, park guides or even most restrooms carries huge risks to public safety, public health and our natural resources,” said Jennifer Rokala, executive director of the Center for Western Priorities.

“This half-baked plan will endanger park visitors and the skeleton crew of first responders that would remain on the job during a shutdown,” she said.

At the Blackwater National Wildlife Refuge near Cambridge, Maryland, Orrin Baird motored along the scenic drive Saturday and took in the views.

But when he got to the driveway leading to the visitors center, he was confronted by a closed gate and a note: “Due to the lapse in federal appropriations, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is unable fully to staff the properties under its management. It is not feasible to close or otherwise prohibit all access to National Wildlife Refuge System properties. Refuge visitors are advised to use extreme caution if choosing to enter units of the National Wildlife Refuge System, as FWS personnel will not be available to provide guidance, assistance, maintenance, or emergency response on Refuge System property. Any entry onto Refuge System property during this period of federal government shutdown is at the visitor’s sole risk.”

“It’s a disappointment, but you kind of expect that from Congress these days,” said Mr. Baird, 70, a retired lawyer from the District of Columbia.

Dave and Bonnie Wilford of Easton, Maryland, were particularly dismayed by the closed visitors center.

Mr. Wilford, a retired journalist, said he felt slighted by being turned away after having volunteered more than 1,000 hours at the wildlife refuge.

“The whole thing upsets me,” he said of the shutdown, adding that he blamed everyone in Washington. “There’s no one party or one person to blame. A pox on both their houses.”

“It’s our tax money,” Mrs. Wilford said. “They are hurting all these institutions that all these people work hard to save.”

Mr. Wilford said he had mixed feelings about fixing Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA), the amnesty for illegal immigrant Dreamers that is at the heart of the shutdown standoff.

“Right now, DACA is getting the attention, and no one is paying attention to CHIP,” he said.

Funding for the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), a government medical program for vulnerable children, was extended for six years under the stopgap spending bill that Senate Democrats blocked Friday, triggering the shutdown.

Stephen Dinan contributed to this article.

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