Press Releases

Democrats Reject Simpson’s Bill to Re-Open Parks and Museums

The Open Our Nation’s Parks and Museums Act would have restarted operations of national parks, Smithsonian museums, and others in spite of shutdown

Washington, October 1, 2013
The Open Our Nation’s Parks and Museums Act would have restarted operations of national parks, Smithsonian museums, and others in spite of shutdown

 Idaho Congressman Mike Simpson authored legislation taken up by the House of Representatives this evening to immediately reopen our National Parks and museums in Washington, DC.  Unfortunately, House Democrats opposed the bill and it failed under suspension of the rules.  National Park Service operations were suspended today because of the government shutdown, and the Smithsonian Institute museums, the National Gallery of Art, and the United States Holocaust Museum have been closed.  H.J.Res 70, the Open Our Nation’s Parks and Museums Act, would have provided immediate funding at current sequestered levels to ensure that Americans can still visit these important sites.

“One of the first things we heard when the government shut down was the gates to our nation’s crown jewels, our national parks, slamming shut.  The American people should still have access to their parks even if Congress is struggling to find a long-term solution for our budgetary woes," said Simpson.  "In addition, I’ve heard from a number of Idahoans who have planned for months to travel to our nation’s capital this week, only to find that many of the things they came to see—including the Smithsonian, the Holocaust Museum, and many historical sites in the region—are closed.  The Open Our Nation’s Parks and Museums Act would have made sure that they didn’t spend all that money coming across the country to Washington, DC, only to sit in a hotel room because nothing is open.”

“This was a stopgap measure, not a long-term solution,” Simpson added.  “Congress has a constitutional responsibility to keep the government functioning and pass a budget as quickly as possible. I am disappointed the Democrats rejected this common sense measure, and even more disappointed that the Senate continues to refuse to negotiate with the House on ending the shutdown.”

Simpson’s resolution failed by a vote of 252-176, not having received the necessary two-thirds votes for passage under the rules.  Simpson chairs the House Interior and Environment Appropriations Subcommittee, which oversees the budget for the National Park Service, the Smithsonian, and related agencies.

Simpson’s floor speech can be viewed here.