Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus said Wednesday that he’s willing to foot the bill to keep the World War II Memorial open to the public for 30 days during the government shutdown.
“The Obama administration has decided they want to make the government shutdown as painful as possible, even taking the unnecessary step of keeping the Greatest Generation away from a monument built in their honor,” Priebus said.
The memorial has been an unexpected center of controversy during the government shutdown. Veterans, who have flown in from around the country as part of a program that pays for them to visit the memorial, moved barricades out of the way Tuesday and Wednesday to enter the memorial despite it being blocked off to the public. Dozens of members of Congress showed up as well.
Priebus estimates it would cost around $150,000 to pay for five security personnel to watch over the memorial. He also said he hoped to hire currently furloughed employees for the job.
He said he hadn’t yet contacted anyone at the Parks Department or anyone at the Office of Management and Budget about the plan but would soon.
Priebus also challenged the Democratic National Committee to join his effort.
“Seeing that the DNC has bragged about fundraising off of the government shutdown, I’d invite my counterpart, Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz, to join with us in keeping this memorial open.”
But Priebus wouldn’t directly comment when asked whether the RNC would be willing to fund anything else that has been shutdown.
“This generation is a lot older and as we all know they’re not going to be with us a whole lot longer,” he said. “I think it’s something we can do to help out.”
At a press briefing Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said that the Department of the Interior has made “an accommodation for the Honor Flights and will grant access to the World War II Memorial” for First Amendment activities.