Congressional Hearing Into National Park Service Shutdown Process Leads To Bashing

A smug, biting, and sarcastic roster of Republicans bashed National Park Service Director Jon Jarvis during a hearing Wednesday into how the Park Service handled the closure of the park system in the wake of the federal government's partial shutdown.

The joint hearing by the House Oversight and Natural Resources committees offered harsh criticism, and even condemnation, from many of the GOP committee members, alternating with praise and support from Democratic members.

Director Jarvis was forced to sit and listen to his critics, as the committees subpoeaned him to appear after he initially demurred from their request that he testify.

At one point Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colorado, pointedly called the director "a liability to the National Park Service."

That attack was quickly rebutted by Rep. Gerald Connolly, a Virginia Democrat, who defended Director Jarvis and praised his service to the Park Service.

The hearing offered stark contrasts over whose fault the closure of the National Park System was, with Republicans blaming the Senate for not voting on a measure that would have provided funding to open the parks and charging the Obama administration with making the parks' closure inconvenient and harsher than it might have been, while Democrats saddled the blame on the Republicans in the House for refusing to approve the Senate's Continuing Resolution to fund government.

Rep. Pete Defazio, D-Oregon, at one point held up a mirror to the Republicans on the two committees and remarked, "Here's who is responsible for shutting down the national parks."

In response to a question from Rep. Rob Wittman, R-Virginia, the director acknowledged the closure of the park system didn't go as smoothly as it might have.

"We haven't done this in 20 years. Shutting down is hard and complicated. There were some lessons learned here," said Director Jarvis.

Rep. Jared Huffman, D-California, said he was disgusted by this "sham of a hearing," calling it a "kangaroo court" and pointless other than to give some an opportunity to offer soundbites and toss about reckless claims.

In sum, he said, the hearing "makes the McCarthy era look like the Enlightenment."


It was hard to watch and it really shows how disgusting our politics have become. On the one hand you have Republicans blaming Jarvis for shutting down NPS sites, when it was they who were responsible for shutting down those NPS sites. And on the other hand, there are some legitimate questions about how we can better handle shutting down NPS sites. This is not Director Jarvis's fault, it is soley the fault of the dimwits in D.C., particular the fault of the Republicans. However, the NPS should sit down and better plan for the next government shutdown. Whether that shutdown be two months from now, a year from now, or another 20 years from now. Get a rubric together of how to handle and be consistent for what should happen during a shutdown.

Sadly, it is fuel for the haters of all ilk.

My opinion is similar to the above comment - the tea party extremists, along with Boehner's incompetence, created the situation. The NPS, extremely sad to say, should have had some plans on the shelf for this eventuality. Now that we know we've been electing nihilistic children to Congress, the NPS should take notes from the Pentagon about having potentially needed game plans in binders on the shelf.

Every unit in the NPS has a plan should power be lost...they have a plan for hazardous materials releases...they have plans for development of facilities...

Of course the agency should have had a plan in place for 'closure of the government'. After all, this is 17 of them in some number of years...The fact that they didn't indicates that at a high level the agency is not prepared for what surely is coming their way. They are and always have been the most public agency during these events. Maybe they'll have a plan next time....considering the damage done to the agency credibility from this one...

Congress has surely acted badly during the past two weeks. Both parties have acted badly...but...Planning for these events really has nothing to do with Congress. We have always elected suspect Congresspersons...criminals like Cunningham and Jackson Jr., those focused upon their own futures rather than the countries like SJLee or Traficant and those who are simply clueless about anything like Mr Johnson of Georgia...

The agency simply has to be prepared. They weren't. I hope they are next time.

Never before have we seen such shenanigans such as closing down the parks as we have under the 0bama regime. I suggest Defazio look in the mirror himself to see who shut the parks down. From day one, Republicans were willing to negotiate. The dems were not. Their behavior has been despicable. Jarvis should have told 0bama to take a hike.

Republicans willing to negotiate? Only if they could defund or otherwise eviscerate the Affordable Care Act or open only those parts of the government that were causing their approval ratings to drop,.

The hearing today was a travesty.


Dave, Take your nonsense elsewhere. Sane, rational discussions are had here, and we don't need your political divisiveness.

Political divisiveness is a model for community organizers but will tread softly in the discussion. One might consider the obvious reality of implementing the closure in absurdly partisan ways. Of coarse I'm refering the blocking of WWII Veterans from their memorial while allowing an illegal immigration rally on the mall with the blessing of the President putting NPS squarely in a very undesirable position. Have great sympathies for those NPS Rangers put in that position. They had little say I am sure. Do you not see the attitude the Republican Congressman displayed understandable just a little bit? NPS was used in a most unamerican way that really sends chills through many that remember when this was perceived a great country. Internationals visiting GC say as much in the visitor logs. I'm including a post from our Rep. here in Arizona on what has been happening.

Fault lies in many places. Parks are loved by democrats, republicans, independents and those from foreign nations. Our first president warned us about parties, saying that partisans will lose their own thoughts on an issue for the sake of the party. So in a hearing like this you see two lines of group think - one for and one against. A democrat can't have questions about veteran access? A republican can't praise the director? Sad.

Issa kept going on and on about the 1995 agreement with Arizona, but didn't that only partially reopen the Grand Canyon?

And who determines the discourse? Surely not the lowly Republicans. Being scammed folks. Using those that love the great places in dispicable ways.

You might ask yourself if he might choose a golf course over say, Canyonlands or Vessey's Paradise?

The idiots who shut the U.S. down can never admit their stupidity. It's much easier to try to find someone else to blame for their mess.

Jon Jarvis deserves some kind of medal for what happened today.

Any idea how we can sequester a bunch of Congressidiots?

What's the obsession with the DOD golf courses? They are not Obama's, the courses are there for the military and their guests. The golf courses do not require appropriated funds, the operation of the NPS does require an annual appropriation.

I agree Rick, thank you for your post.

I love how blind you GOP supporters are. Let's not acknowledge NPS is federally funded. Let's pretend the local tourists income is falling out of the sky and every penny goes back to federal's pocket. GOP is responsible for both sequester and this shutdown in the name of what? ACA? Two years later? What is next? Secession?

It's one thing to have a difference in opinions. It is simply dumb to not think and function logically. IF GOPs are going to keep crying about smaller gov't then come to the table with a better solution. Demanding a smaller gov't and less tax isn't a solution unless money falls out of the sky for everyone in the world. We are in a global economy, so stop pretending we can be a leader on the world stage and not spend money. You don't solve every conflict and disagreements with ignorance.

While Chairman Issa may be an idiot, let's not feel too sorry for Director Jarvis. It's a difficult job to be sure, but appearing before Congressional committees is not an optional part of it.

I'd be interested to know why it took over a week for the state-funded contingency arrangements to be agreed upon. If they are truly a legal and workable option, why can't they be in place at the beginning of any shutdown (when circumstances would be least disruptive for everyone involved)? Seems like the shutdown procedures were clearly understood and executed with gusto, while a more optimal arrangement was ignored for over a week.

Lancelot, your post is nonsense.

I haven't seen any GOP apologists post here.

Our level of spending and our level of debt is un-sustainable. There is common acknowledgement of these facts in both parties. The President won this latest battle. The press seems to agree upon that as fact. I'm not so sure he won all the marbles...

Ron Fournier is a liberal opinion writer but sees many of the larger issues involved in politics including the results of this latest dust-up. Read his post today. You may learn something...

The President won this latest battle.

And our children lost.

Mike, I actually agree with you this time...kinda.

I don't necessarily think there were any winners, not after 16 days of the mess that was created. And as a taxpayer it angers me that nothing was accomplished for the long run, other than to appoint yet another committee to find a solution that the majority of both parties can support.

To reach that solution, all need to give something, including the president, the moderates, and the extreme right (and left) wings. If we encounter the same bruising, damaging battle in mid-Januay, and again in February, this episode will have accomplished nothing, and we're all worse off for that.

it angers me too.... it angers all of us regardless of political positions.

Our Federal Government is moribund. Odds are that we will re-live this past couple of weeks again just in time for Christmas. We can all look forward to that...

Fournier's unstated conclusion foretells the future: The President is more interested in "winning" than he is in dealing with either deficits or the debt. It's as simple as that.

Leadership begins at the top.... we have no leadership.

I loved hearing Jarvis's tactics being exposed, that must have been really painful for all you NPS sheeple. There is no question now that he needs to go.

Its bad for all, we're all being led into the demise or "fundemental change" of the USA. This battle was lost, but fortunately some of us have enough common sense and will continue to fight the good fight.

What are sheeple?

Look in the mirror.

How so?

Justin, sheeple are those poor, pathetic creatures that actually believe what they hear on hate radio and read on extremist blogs.

It is a term used by those who think the Red Queen's management style - "Off with her head!!" - is a norm.

You know what it means, its anyone that still would be delusional enough to support this administration and think the NPS does no wrong...

I can certainly see the irony in one's use of the term.

Another 4 months before we start playing out the same exact game...

The solution is well known (reduce spending across the board, increase taxes, as highlighted by Simpson Bowles) but it pleases no one, so it won't happen. So, we're going to stumble from one fake crisis into another, until we actually reach a real one, that is when investors start asking for higher rates on the money they're lending us.

The good news is that the tea party and their ilk will be thrown out on their posteriors in the next election.

The bad news is that there will still be time for them to do damage before they slink out of town.

Zeb, we need to increase tax receipts. Raising tax rates wont get us there.

Ec, while I'm certainly no high tax apologist, it'll be hard to raise revenues without raising rates (either through higher rates, or through removing deductions).

I just watched an interview with our newest U.S. Senator -- Cory Booker of New Jersey who was just elected last night -- defeating a Tea Party type.

I was struck by how refreshing it was to hear a Senator (even though he hasn't taken office yet) who actually spoke with intelligence, good common sense, and hope. No vomiting of party demagoguery, no regurgitation of tired talking points. Just good sensible sense.

Where can we find 49 more just like him?

Zeb. Its not hard at all. Tax receipts soared after Reagan's and Bush's tax rate cuts.

Lee, i'm guessing you have never been to Newark.

Ec, my understanding from the CBO was the Bush tax cuts actually reduced tax receipts. I may be wrong.

No, ec, I haven't. But I've read a lot about the improvements Booker has been able to begin making there. I just hope his successor can continue them.

And Zeb, you are actually correct. Ec can Google it.

2003 receipts (the year the major portion of the cuts took effect) tax receipts were 1782.3 billion. they grew each year through 2008 when they hit 2524 billion.

you and Lee can google it.

U.S. Government receipts through August are 13% higher YTD than the prior year($2.47T vs. $2.18T). Spending is down 3.7% YTD.

NPS spending is down 11% YTD for FY13 from same point in FY12($2.65B vs. $2.98B).

Y'know, from time to time perhaps we all need to remember that all this fuss and muss and flying feathers is not at all what's really important.

It's not Jarvis. It's not the high muckety-mucks in Interior. It's not the Congresscritters.

It's the ordinary people of NPS. The maintenance worker cleaning toilets. The fee collector greeting visitors at an entrance station. An LE ranger working radar. An interpreter interpreting.

Those are the people who are REALLY important. Like this one -- the oldest ranger in the National Park Service:

(Rats -- not sure how to make it work. But go to and watch the clip about the 92-year old ranger at Rosie the Riviter. Nightly News October 17)

Yep, story about the 92-year old ranger is pretty amazing. Just like that guy at Glacier.

Wash Post slideshow(Photos 1-8 are from the National Mall today)

Lee, your first link was opinion not fact and you apparently mis-read or didn't understand the second. Its point on the Bush tax cut was that it dropped receipts as a percentage of the economy not that actual receipts went down. Thats the whole point. Lower tax rates stimulate a bigger economy and thus higher actual receipts

The actual numbers can be found here:

and they are exactly as I quoted them.

Sorry for the double post, it told me the server didn't take it the first time.

Lee, thank you for the post. It is good to be brought back to center.

Sara, thanks for the link!

Hmm Lee, I thought it was about the parks and the people that visit them. Didn't realize the priority was supposed to be the front line workers.

You're wrong Lee... it's not about the people employed or volunteering for the NPS. It's about the PARKS, the public accessibility to them and what it costs taxpayers to operate them.

There are teriffic people working as park employees and volunteers. Without the parks themselves they may as well be painters or carpenters or... community organizers....

Ah, well. Talking with a rock can be difficult.