Photo of the Statue of Liberty courtesy of the NPS
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Sunday said the state of New York will pay $65,000 per day to reopen the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island during the ongoing federal government shutdown, which forced the park to close over the weekend. Cuomo said the state made an agreement with the Department of the Interior, which oversees the National Park Service, to keep New York Harbor’s landmark open. The government closed midnight on Saturday after Republican and Democrats in Congress failed to pass an appropriations bill.
“The Statue of Liberty is a symbol of freedom and opportunity for all, and it is a gross injustice that this administration’s dysfunction caused it to shut down,” Cuomo said. “When this administration tries to deport immigrants, when they close down the Statue of Liberty, they are attacking who we are.”
While a symbolic gesture, as Congress continues to feud over immigration policies, Cuomo’s plan to reopen the Statue of Liberty is a practical move. According to a report by the NPS, 4.5 million people visited Liberty Island in 2016, generating $263.2 million in visitor spending per year.
The governor reached a similar agreement to keep the statue open during the 2013 government shutdown. In addition to Lady Liberty, the Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum and the National Museum of the American Indian will remain open for at least Monday despite the shutdown, using leftover funds for operations. Other national monuments and parks in NYC will be affected by the shutdown, including Federal Hall and the Gateway Park.
During a press conference on Sunday, Cuomo talked about his Italian grandparents “who had a son become governor.” He continued: “That’s what America is all about. And in many ways, this shutdown in Washington, to me takes us back to that fundamental concept, which is they are against immigration. They want to close the doors and we want to keep them open.”
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