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Head of Park Service to be grilled by House committees

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J-Jarvis-NPSThe director of the National Park Service has been subpoenaed to testify before two House committees Wednesday to explain why the National Mall and the surrounding memorials were closed and barricaded during the partial government shutdown.

Park Service Director Jonathan Jarvis is expected to testify before the House Oversight Committee and the Natural Resources Committee that the threat of terrorism was the reason the Obama administration ordered the closing of open-air memorials and other privately funded national parks.

The Washington Times obtained excerpts of Jarvis’ prepared statement, in which he said with the “limited staff” left working during the shutdown, he could not “guarantee the safety” of the monuments in this “post-9/11 world.”

“Even though the U.S. Park Police commissioned officers have been exempted from the furlough, given the limited staff resources during the shutdown, prudent and practical steps were taken to secure life and property at these national icons where security has become increasingly complex in a post-9/11 world,” his testimony read.

Jarvis is expected to face tough questions Wednesday from Chairmen Darrell Issa and Doc Hastings.

“Why did the Park Service barricade the Lincoln Memorial? Why are Americans being prevented from walking around the Mall? Why were veterans turned away from the Vietnam Veterans Memorial?” are a few of the questions from Issa’s prepared statement, also obtained by the Times.

“Many of these places were not barricaded during the last government shutdown 17 years ago…The Obama administration is taking advantage of every opportunity to make this shutdown as painful as possible,” the New York Post reported Hastings, chairman of the Natural Resources Committee, said.

“The Obama administration is arbitrarily and inconsistently barricading open spaces, restricting access to privately operated facilities within the forests, and wildlife refuges, and hurting small businesses that do not rely on federal funds to operate,” Hastings continued.

According to the Times, Jarvis was subpoenaed to testify by Issa after he originally “declined” to appear before the House committees Wednesday.

Jarvis, the Times reported, was willing to testify after the shutdown had ended, when the Park Service’s furloughed “legislative affairs division” was back to work.

Related: National Park Service director testifies he discussed closing parks with White House

from the Washington Times.

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