Facing the prospect of a temporary government shutdown if Congress fails to adopt a new federal budget by midnight, Sept. 30, Republican officials and strategists are expecting an onslaught of dire 'Washington Monument Strategy'-based predictions from Democrats.
The WMS was most famously used in 2013 when President Barack Obama ordered the World War II monument on the National Mall closed during a budget battle with Tea Party Republicans in Congress.
Mainstream media outlets repeatedly broadcast and posted live shots and news videos of veterans in wheelchairs who came from all across America, often on once-in-a-lifetime visits to the nation's capital, being turned away from the monument during the 16-day shutdown.
But other benefit programs, most notably, those paid to veterans, can be delayed, and federal departments and agencies are barred from incurring new spending obligations. Small businesses that supply the government goods and services can also be forced to wait for payments.
"A lot of activities that are essential to the nation's security continue, but a lot of important activities also do grind to a halt under a showdown," BPC Senior Policy Analyst Andrew Lautz told The Epoch Times in a telephone interview.
Asked if he worries about the WMS, Rep. Robert Good (R-Va.) told The Epoch Times that his Virginia constituents are “are fed up with Washington’s out-of-control spending and the impact it’s having on their lives. Politicians from both parties have piled up $100,000 worth of debt for every man, woman, and child in America, and so-called Bidenomics is making it harder for families to make ends meet. Sadly, too many timid politicians in Congress are willing to keep funding business as usual instead of fighting back against the media and the Biden administration, who are engaged in fear-mongering.”
“A potential government shutdown is more consequential than just shutting down national parks. Instead of prioritizing our veterans and essential government services, Biden and the Democrats are going to engage in a politically motivated game of deception guided by optics, not impact,” Mr. Keady told The Epoch Times.
A shutdown in 2023 won't be the first one seen by Brian Darling, another Republican strategist and a former senior counsel to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).
“The last few partial shutdowns of the government led to shutdown theater by Democrats, including the closing of national parks and other government services so they can make-believe that the whole government is shutting down," Mr. Darling told The Epoch Times.
"They will stop veterans from accessing the WWII memorial in Washington and shut down parks in a way that will maximize the political pain for Republicans, even though this is completely unnecessary. The Antideficiency Act allows core government functions, like defense spending, to continue, and the Biden administration should not engage in a cynical political play to take advantage of the situation,” he continued.
At least one Republican senator, John Barrasso of Wyoming, is seeking to head off one aspect of the WMS, reminding Secretary of the Interior Deb Haaland about the Federal Lands Recreation Enhancement Act (FLREA), which was approved in 2004.
"In previous years, it has been demonstrated that these funds can be successfully utilized to keep public lands open during a lapse in appropriations. During the December 2018-January 2019 shutdown, most of the national parks remained accessible to visitors because FLREA funds were available to cover costs associated with visitor services and law enforcement," Mr. Barrasso wrote.
Meanwhile, members of Congress continue negotiating behind closed doors while budget experts keep hoping for the best.
"They already agreed on funding levels through the Fiscal Responsibility Act in June; they should stick to those levels now and build on the momentum going forward. Working together to address our fiscal health through a bipartisan commission would be a great way to make those conversations happen,” Ms MacGuineas said.
But limited government advocates continue to hope the final result of the approaching standoff will be less federal spending and regulation.
"In this instance, the threatened closure was the result of a funding gap related to the impending expiration of an appropriation bill related to the Chicago World’s Fair that had been repeatedly blocked by the two Democratic congressmen. The anticipated closure of the monument was listed among other injustices and inconveniences that would also occur, including delays in the burials of 'indigent soldiers' and the issuing of 'artificial limbs to crippled veterans,” she wrote in an academic journal.