Arizona seeks Grand Canyon shutdown refund

Members of Arizona's congressional delegation are calling for a full refund of the expenses incurred by the state to reopen the Grand Canyon National Park during the government shutdown.

Arizona Governor Jan Brewer (R) was one of four governors to sign an agreement with the National Park Service to reopen its park for five days in October.

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The costs amounted to $465,000, which were covered by state and business donors.

Sen. John McCain (R) along with Sen. Jeff Flake (R), Rep. Kyrsten Sinema (D), Rep. Ron Barber (D) and other members of the delegation sent a letter to Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis on Wednesday asking the department to "follow past practice and provide a full refund."

"Past experience also suggests that the Park Service has existing authority to refund the State," the lawmakers wrote in the letter.

"After the 1995 shutdown, the Park Service ultimately refunded the State for the full amount ($370,125) it advanced to operate the park."

During the 16-day shutdown in October, the administration said states could open parks if they paid for the costs. It did not say whether they would be reimbursed once the government reopened.

In October, an Interior aide said the department could not reimburse states unless Congress passed legislation giving them the authority to do so.

If the Interior were to pay states that reopened national sites it would be considered donations, the aide said.

Arizona lawmakers vowed to seek a legislative solution if the Park Service does not respond.