Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., found a diversion away from the bickering at the Capitol on Tuesday, the first day of the federal government shutdown. She and several other lawmakers escorted aging veterans from Mississippi into the World War II Memorial, among the national parks and monuments that are closed due to the shutdown, Huffington Post reports.
Bachmann helped usher the elderly men past barricades that had been temporarily erected to keep people out.
"Every day there's a shutdown, we're going to be here to make sure the veterans get in," Bachmann said. "There'll be some members of Congress here to make sure they get in."
Bachmann and Rep. John Kline were back greeting veterans at the World War II Memorial Wednesday afternoon, the Star Tribune reports. Federal officials had planned to re-close the site on Wednesday, but the National Park Service decided all veterans who traveled to see the memorial as part of the Honor Flight Network would be allowed to visit.
Among the veterans visiting Tuesday was Louis Neff, 86, of Slidell, La., Huffington Post reported. "We were anxious from yesterday on," he said. "It would be horrible to make the trip and not see it."
CNN has video of the incident, and notes, "Rep. Michele Bachmann of Minnesota, wearing casual clothes, said she was out walking when she heard about the pile-up outside the memorial and decided to hustle over to the site."
Bachmann told the New York Times she rushed to the memorial after receiving a frantic e-mail saying that veterans were being barred from the site.
Bachmann, with her arm around a visiting veteran, told CNN that Democratic leaders refuse to negotiate. "If you are in a marriage, and one person talks and the other person won't talk, what in the world can you do? And that's what's happening, unfortunately."
Bachmann had been among the conservative members of the House who had welcomed the shutdown as they made the Affordable Care Act a bargaining chip in negotiations over the nation's budget, the Washington Post reported. “We’re very excited,” Bachmann had said. “It’s exactly what we wanted, and we got it.”
Minnesota's members of Congress, like the rest of the nation's lawmakers, pointed fingers of blame at the opposing party for the shutdown. MPR has collected reactions from the state's delegation in the U.S. Capitol.
“Republicans in the House continue to insist on holding our economic recovery hostage while they refight the same political battles over and over again," Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., said.
WCCO explores whether members of Congress get paid during a shutdown as part of its Good Question feature. (The answer: yes.)
FOX 9 specifically asked each of Minnesota's lawmakers in Congress if they were taking pay during the shutdown, and some said they would not.