Tourist sites closed, canceled flyover for Patriots game among local signs of shutdown
An F-15 fighter jet flyover planned for the AFC championship game on Sunday at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough was canceled.
Tourist attractions like the Bunker Hill Monument and the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum were closed.
And some local workers employed by the federal government were furloughed.
Signs of the government shutdown in Washington were visible across Eastern Massachusetts as the work stoppage began Saturday.
A striking casualty of the budget impasse will be the empty skies in Foxborough as the New England Patriots take the field for their game Sunday afternoon: Four fighter jets that had been expected to fly over the stadium just before the game were grounded by the shutdown, said Lieutenant Colonel Lisa Ahaesy, spokeswoman for the Massachusetts National Guard.
Members of the Massachusetts congressional delegation, all Democrats, blamed President Trump and Republicans for the crisis.
“The Trump shutdown is a complete vacuum of leadership and a direct result of the chaos that comes from the White House, and the failure of the House and Senate majority leadership to lead for the American people,” said US Representative Katherine Clark of Melrose.
US Senator Edward J. Markey said the government closed because Trump failed to take an active leadership role in negotiating an agreement.
“President Trump wants to be an outsider, but you can’t be an outsider when they call you Mr. President,” he said.
Markey’s office was warning people that its operation may slow down while the government is closed.
“President Trump and Congressional Republicans have shut down the government,” reads a message on Markey’s website. “During this time, constituent services will be limited while we work to craft a bipartisan budget agreement.”
Congress failed to fund the government before a midnight deadline Friday after Senate Democrats and a handful of Republicans blocked a short-term funding bill sent over from the House late Friday night.
Democrats have said they would support legislation reopening government once there’s a bipartisan agreement to shield young immigrants, known as Dreamers, who arrived in the United States illegally as children from deportation.
Senate minority leader Chuck Schumer said he offered Trump funding for a border wall in exchange for protecting young immigrants who will soon be subject to deportation, but the president refused to encourage Republican leadership to act on it.
“Republicans control the House, Senate, and the White House, yet they can’t reach a deal themselves, nor will they invite Democrats to the table for meaningful debate,” US Representative Seth Moulton said in a prepared statement. “This shutdown is the pure result of the fact that the people running the Congress are not interested in serving Americans.”
Across Boston, the shutdown left the doors locked at popular tourist attractions like the Charlestown Navy Yard Visitor Center, Bunker Hill Museum, and USS Cassin Young, which are a part of the Boston National Historical Park and are run by the National Park Service.
An agency spokesman in Boston couldn’t be reached Saturday. An e-mail sent to his account generated an automatic message, saying he’d been furloughed because of the federal government shutdown.
“I cannot check e-mail messages until the government reopens,” the message said.
Destinations within the national park but operated by nongovernmental groups remained open, including the Museum of African American History, the USS Constitution and its museum, and the Old State House.
In Dorchester, the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum shut down, though employees of a separate foundation that supports the operation plan to work remotely, a spokeswoman said.
The impact of the closure on some historic sites in Massachusetts run by the federal goverment was unclear.
Messages left for Minute Man National Historical Park in Concord and Lowell National Historical Park weren’t returned Saturday.
At the State House, an official said the immediate impact of the shutdown would be relatively limited, but if operations remain halted for several weeks there could be lapses in federal funds that pay for housing subsidies, refugee assistance, and unemployment benefits.
A spokesman for Governor Charlie Baker said the administration prepared for the shutdown.
“Governor Baker believes members of Congress owe it to the people they represent to put aside political differences and craft a bipartisan solution that funds the federal government,” said Brendan Moss, the spokesman.
While many government workers remain on the job, some are unsure about returning to the office Monday.
EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt sent an e-mail to employees Friday saying the agency has “sufficient resources to remain open for a limited amount of time“ during a closure, and he told staff to follow their normal work schedule.
The directive has raised questions, said Steven Calder, president of the union that represents about 600 EPA employees in Boston and Chelmsford.
“Can they actually pay us when they government is shut down?” he asked. “There are lots of questions.”