Rep. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), an Iraq war veteran who lost both her legs in combat, accused Republicans on Wednesday of exploiting veterans for political theater.
The National Park Service opened the World War II Memorial on Wednesday to visiting veterans after the site became a flashpoint of controversy.
A busload of veterans arrived early on Tuesday to visit the memorial, but it had already been barricaded because of the government shutdown. Lawmakers from both sides of the aisle rushed to the site to score political points off the optics of veterans being barred from visiting their memorial, but Republicans have continued to harp on the controversy.
Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus announced at the memorial on Wednesday that the RNC would pay the costs of security to keep the memorial open. Some GOP lawmakers have said the president has stationed more guards at the WWII Memorial than he sent to the deadly terror attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed four Americans.
“These same veterans that they’re pretending to help today at the WWII Memorial, you know, they’re going to have access to their disability pensions is going to be limited after Oct. 15,” Duckworth said. “There’s going to be cuts in prosthetic research for veterans. The National Cemetery Administration is not going to be able to lay our heroes to rest at the same rate that they were.”
Rep. Michele Bachmann (R-Minn.) also visited the site on Wednesday, and later in an interview on Fox’s "Hannity" held up handfuls of yellow police tape from the memorial, saying it was a symbol of President Obama’s shutdown.
“Michele Bachmann, who was there today at the World War II Memorial, actually said, ‘The shutdown is exactly what we wanted. We got what we wanted,’ ” Duckworth continued. “A good day for the Tea Party is when government is having a bad day.”