The Statue of Liberty in New York Harbor was closed this weekend because of the shutdown of the U.S. government. A sign announcing the closure of the Statue of Liberty was placed near the ferry dock in Battery Park in lower Manhattan. The shutdown began after the Senate failed to reach a spending deal and a compromise did not appear on the near horizon.
The National Park Service indicated on Friday that the historic statue and nearby Ellis Island would be closed to visitors if Congress failed to reach a budget deal by the midnight deadline. The agency said the islands were closed “due to a lapse in appropriations.”
Some tourists hoping to travel to the must-see destination this weekend got an unpleasant surprise. Many didn’t realize that the government shutdown would shut down the Statue of Liberty. Some of those tourists had bought their tickets months ago. Tourists were able to trade their tickets for an hour-long harbor tour that let them see her from the water or were given refunds.
New York Governor Andrew Cuomo wants to use state money to reopen the sites during the shutdown. Cuomo said, “I’m volunteering that the state will pay to keep the Statue of Liberty open.” He commented, “How do you close the Statue of Liberty? It’s the symbol of New York, it’s the symbol of America.”
This is not the first time the offer has been made. During the 2013 government shutdown, Cuomo paid about $250,000 in state money to reopen Liberty Island.
In Washington, D.C., open-air parks and monuments remained open despite the shutdown. Public tours of the Capitol building have been temporarily cancelled. The Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will close on Monday if lawmakers still have not reached a deal.
Interior Sec. Ryan Zinke acknowledged that sections of some national parks were closed this weekend. In total, almost 1 million civilian federal workers will be furloughed from their jobs if the shutdown extends into Monday.
Defense Secretary retired Gen. James Mattis said the U.S. military will remain fully operational during the shutdown. Mattis wrote in a department-wide memo: “We will continue to execute daily operations around the world — ships and submarines will remain at sea, our aircraft will continue to fly and our warfighters will continue to pursue terrorists throughout the Middle East, Africa and South Asia.”