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."