New York governor vows to reopen Statue of Liberty as shutdown enters Day 2

Reuters News
Posted: Jan 21, 2018 10:59 AM

By Joseph Ax

NEW YORK (Reuters) - As the federal government shutdown entered its second day on Sunday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo vowed to use state money to reopen the Statue of Liberty before Washington restores funding to operate the popular tourist destination.

The site was among many federal monuments and parks that closed at midnight Friday after lawmakers in Congress failed to agree on a spending plan to keep the government running, triggering the first shutdown in four years.

In the hours leading up to the shutdown, the Trump administration was working on ways to keep hundreds of parks open without staff in an effort to avoid public anger, though it was unclear which ones would close.

"Not all parks are fully open but we are all working hard to make as many areas as accessible to the public as possible," U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke said on Twitter on Saturday.

In Washington, the Smithsonian museums and the National Zoo will remain open through Monday, using prior-year funds. In a tweet, the Smithsonian said it would update its status beyond Monday "as soon as we know."

But in Philadelphia, visitors were turned away at the Liberty Bell, while tourists in New York on Saturday expressed disappointment that they were unable to take the ferry to the island that houses the Statue of Liberty.

During the last shutdown in 2013, a number of governors used state funds to keep certain parks open, including the Statue of Liberty, which at that time cost $61,600 per day to reopen.

Speaking to reporters on Saturday, Cuomo called it a "gross injustice" to close down the statue, a symbol of American freedoms. The Democratic governor said he would use state money to pay for operations, both because it is an emblem of New York and the United States and because the cost is justified from a tourism standpoint.

"We're going to be talking to the federal government as soon as somebody answers the phone," he said.

In Arizona, Republican Governor Doug Ducey vowed last week to keep the Grand Canyon operating using state funds in the event of a shutdown.

But in South Dakota, home of Mount Rushmore, Republican Governor Dennis Daugaard on Friday said he would not take any action to keep the monument open during a shutdown.

(Reporting by Joseph Ax; Editing by Frank McGurty and Jeffrey Benkoe)