One of the most broadly advertised side effects of the government shutdown was that all our national parks were closed down as well. This means places like Yellowstone and the Grand Canyon not only aren’t open for visitors, but that the businesses that surround these parks that depend on tourist traffic would suffer a big financial hit as well. Apparently this notion has started to sink in throughout the states, and even those with Republican governors are starting to clamor to get the national parks in their states reopened. Arizona’s Republican Governor Jan Brewer is one of those red state governors, frantically trying to get the Grand Canyon National Park back open.
Brewer at first attempted to reopen the Grand Canyon using Arizona state funds, but the park superintendent, Dave Uberuaga, told her that’s not a legal possibility. Over 2,200 park employees have been furloughed as a result of the Grand Canyon’s closure, and other small business have attempted to pay for the park’s reopening as well. The bottom line, according to Uberuaga is that since Congress pays for the park operations through appropriation spending, only Congress can fund the parks.
Perhaps this is one reason that so many in the country on both sides of the aisle were urging House Republicans to not push the country into a government shutdown. Perhaps stories like Brewer’s should be a lesson to all red state governors who toe the party line and push the harsh anti-Federal government rhetoric all the time that in the end, state and Federal governments are a much more symbiotic relationship than they care to admit.
Though Brewer has had some famous clashes with the Obama Administration over her state’s highly controversial immigration laws, she’s also recently fought against the GOP in her own state, getting them to acquiesce to accepting the Medicaid funding as part of the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as it’s more widely known. A good strategy might be for her to team up with other red state governors with famous national parks in their state and put pressure on their colleagues in D.C. to do the right thing and pass a clean continuing resolution to get our government back open and allow those laid off park rangers and staff to go back to work.
The bottom line is that there are wide-ranging consequences to allowing the ideological fringes of your movement to take control, and this government shutdown is a prime example of that. Brewer and other governors are in a tight spot, but they’ve also been some of the Obama Administration’s chief antagonists when it comes to sinking his signature health law, so in a way you could simply say Brewer and others have reaped what they’ve sown. Pressure from Republicans in the states to end the shutdown would certainly move this nightmare closer to an end though, and the only question is how badly Brewer and others want this shutdown finished, and how long they want to make their ideological point.