During a government shutdown in 2013, the Obama Administration closed national parks, drawing stern criticism from Republicans, who said there was no reason to close the facilities to the public.
Republicans made clear that things would be different in the Trump Administration during the Trump Administration, as the national parks would be open - but the GAO said such a move “tears at the very fabric of Congress’s constitutional power of the purse.”
In the report, the GAO said any future move to repeat this effort would be considered a “knowing and willful violation of the Act, subjecting Interior officials to penalties.”
“Instead of carrying out the law, Interior improperly imposed its own will. Interior cannot select which restraints apply to its appropriations and when these restraints apply,” the report bluntly stated.
“The American people pay these park fees to make improvements at our national parks – but instead the Trump administration illegally diverted them to limit the public relations fallout from its costly and unnecessary government shutdown,” said Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM).