When Colorado stepped up during the government shutdown and laid out $362,700 to guarantee Rocky Mountain National Park would stay open for ten days after October 11, it was a donation not a loan, according to Politico. The state is not getting the money it spent back.
“According to the deals between the Interior Department and the states, Congress would need to specifically authorize the repayment of any money spent that states had donated to fund the sites,” Politico reports.
Colorado paid to keep the park open for six days between October 11 and today, when the government reopened. That’s six operating days worth $217,620. That money is gone. The feds reportedly will pay back the unspent $145,080 that would have paid to keep the park open until the October 21.
Politico said that Republican members of Congress mocked deals like this one that states made with the Interior Department during the shutdown, suggesting they were part of a political play orchestrated by the president. Politico speculated that the suspicion might hold back repayment of leftover funds now that the government is reopened.
“Why now, after more than a week of refusing to allow states to pay to keep national parks open, is the Obama administration suddenly reversing course?” Politico quotes Doc Hastings (R-Wash.) to say. Hastings is House Natural Resources Committee chairman.
Republicans suspected the president was intentionally closing popular parks to exaggerate the gravity of the shutdown standoff and turn public opinion against House Republicans.
Hundreds of thousands of federal workers were furloughed during the shutdown. Many government contractors lost 16 days of unrecoverable pay. The national economy lost billions, according to most estimates.[ An Elk Rut at Rocky Mountain National ark by Wally Gobetz ]