Sometimes a visual aid can help get one’s point across, so two Democratic representatives brought bins labelled “Trump Trash” to the White House today, bins filled with national park trash left sitting because of the government shutdown Trump caused. Representatives Jackie Speier (D-CA) and Jared Huffman (D-CA) acquired the trash last weekend at Golden Gate National Recreation Area. Standing in front of the White House gates, Speier proclaimed, “Mr. Trump, here’s your trash,” according to The Hill, and Huffman hoped the display would provide a “reality check” for Trump. Trash has been piling up at national parks during the shutdown because maintenance staff are on furlough amid the shutdown but, unlike during previous shutdowns, most national parks have been allowed to remain open to the public. According to The Hill:
Two Democratic representatives from the Bay Area on Tuesday delivered to the White House trash they picked up from national parks as they urged President Trump to end the partial government shutdown. California Reps. Jackie Speier and Jared Huffman carried bins labeled “Trump Trash” to the front gates of the White House. They collected the garbage last week from parks at the Golden Gate National Recreation Area, which is managed by the National Park Service, one of the government agencies whose current funding has been allowed to lapse…Huffman also said Tuesday that he hoped that he and Speier could provide a “reality check” to Trump by delivering the trash. “Let it never be said that I didn’t give anything to Donald Trump,” he said. “Because today I am bringing boxes of trash … to provide a reality check to the president so that he understands that his political stunt in shutting down the government over the border wall has real world consequences.”
Huffman tweeted this picture of himself with one of the barrels labeled “Trump Trash”, writing “Because Trump is ignoring the consequences of his ridiculous
#shutdown, @RepSpeier & I are taking garbage we picked up at our national parks and delivering it to the White House. Our message is simple: @realdonaldtrump, open the gov.”
Because Trump is ignoring the consequences of his ridiculous #shutdown, @RepSpeier & I are taking garbage we picked up at our national parks and delivering it to the White House. Our message is simple: @realdonaldtrump, open the gov. Watch @ 445 EST at https://t.co/Q0ZpyTfhL2 pic.twitter.com/9pixbj6d23
— Rep. Jared Huffman (@RepHuffman) January 8, 2019
Speier tweeted a picture of herself and Huffman with boxes of the “Trump Trash”, writing, “@RepHuffman and I are delivering trash that he and I cleaned up in national parks in our districts last weekend and that I personally paid to have shipped to DC so that we can deliver it to the White House.”
@RepHuffman and I are delivering trash that he and I cleaned up in national parks in our districts last weekend and that I personally paid to have shipped to DC so that we can deliver it to the White House. pic.twitter.com/kutje4Ue6F
— Jackie Speier (@RepSpeier) January 8, 2019
The Trump administration, apparently aware of the negative publicity the piles of trash, full portable toilets, and general disarray in the negative parks is getting, is planning to divert visitor entrance fees not intended for these purposes in order to get around the lack of funds, at least temporarily. It may not be legal for the entrance fees to be used for other than their intended purposes, however, and some have indicated it is also likely unwise, since it would drain reserve funds for the intended uses of the entrance fees. According to The Hill:
For decades, parks have used their fee revenue to help cover repairs and maintenance to visitor facilities, improve staffing and support law enforcement…The administration, however, is now planning to use those fees as a kind of operating budget, paying for things such as trash removal. And that’s setting off alarm bells among some park supporters. “Burning through the fee reserves is a short-term, stopgap effort that will have consequences throughout the coming year or longer,” said Jonathan Jarvis, who was the National Park Service (NPS) director during the Obama administration…“Fees are for enhancement of visitor services … not for basic operations,” Jarvis said…Some Democratic lawmakers say (Acting Interior Secretary David) Bernhardt has overstepped his statutory authority. “The law is clear: if the federal government is shut down, our National Parks must also be closed to protect public safety and pristine spaces,” Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), chairwoman of the House Appropriations Committee with authority over the Interior’s budget.
The government shutdown continues as President Trump continues to show that he has tunnel vision, concerned only with his wish for a border wall, as 800,000 federal employees go without paychecks, trash and security issues pile up in the national parks, and food stamps and the renewal of housing assistance contracts are soon to be at risk. The administration has said that income tax refunds will still go out from the IRS, despite claims to the contrary during a previous shutdown, but how that will happen when 90% of IRS staff is furloughed due to the shutdown has not yet been answered. It’s a mess. It’s Trump’s mess, but so many of us are left wading in it.