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Bay area veterans' trip to war memorial in jeopardy

11:45 PM, Oct 1, 2013   |    comments
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Verice Bennett, left, and Hunter Lipscomb welcome veteran Oscar L. Russell to the World War II Memorial on Oct. 1 during a visit organized by the Mississippi Gulf Coast Honor Flight in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Jared Soares for USA TODAY)
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Tampa, Florida - Congressional Republicans failed to move forward Tuesday with a piecemeal approach to fund popular parts of the federal government to lessen the impact of the first government shutdown in 17 years.

House and Senate Republicans had offered short-term funding plans to keep open national parks, the Department of Veterans' Affairs, and other government services in the nation's capital.

House Appropriations Chairman Hal Rogers, R-Ky., said the piecemeal approach would "continue to move the ball down the field" toward finding an agreement to resume full government funding. But the GOP efforts failed to win the necessary support in the House to advance to the Senate. The votes fell well short of the two-thirds threshold needed to suspend House rules.

Leonard Black says, "It's shameful. It's really a disgrace."

That was his reaction after learning a group of World War II veterans were denied access to the World War II memorial in Washington, DC Tuesday due to the government shutdown.

Nearly 100 World War II veterans made the trip from Mississippi through the Honor Flight program to see the memorial only to be blocked from entering by several metal barricades.

That has Black worried. He's the co-founder of Honor Flight of West Central Florida, where two flights to take more than 160 veterans is planned for this month. One of the trips is scheduled to leave in a matter of days and many of the veterans gearing up to go are from the Bay area. That trip is now up in the air.

Black says they don't want to cancel it and they're hoping lawmakers will get the government back up and running. "Because we feel this is going to go over and we can go. This is our wish."

No one knows how much World War II veterans appreciate the all-expenses paid trip to DC to see the war memorials than Black. The military hero served our country for 25 years and he fought in World War II. He says, "I've been up there several times and I get a little upset over it right now thinking about it."

Back at the memorial, Republican congressmen defied the National Park Service and opened the barricade for the veterans as people cheered. But while the vets there say they're grateful they got in to see their memorial, they still have a strong message for Congress.

One vet said, "I'm disgusted with them. Get up off and do something."

Black is encouraging everyone in the Bay area to get up and call their congressman, which is something he also did on Tuesday. He says time is critical because of the age of many of the veterans.  One of the veterans scheduled to go on the trip on October 8 is a terminally ill patient, and another was just released from a medical facility. Black says both men are excited to be able to go.


WTSP 10 News coverage of the Federal Government Shutdown:

-The shutdown- Federal Government shuts down after Congress fails to pass spending bill

-Questions & Answers- 

5 things to know about government shutdown

27 more questions and answers about the shutdown

What a US government shutdown means for you

-The shutdown continues-

President Obama: Obama to Republicans: Open the government

Shutdown doesn't keep vets from WWII Memorial

National Zoo panda cam goes dark in government shutdown


Congress: Senate rejects House plan for budget talks amid shutdown

Congress: 3rd bill defeated; House spending plan fails to gain support

If you want to contact your Congressman:

Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R), Dist. 12: 
2313 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: 202-225-5755
Fax: 202-225-4085

Rep. C.W. Bill Young (R), Dist. 13:
2407 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5961
Fax: (202) 225-9764

Rep. Kathy Castor (D), Dist. 14:
205 Cannon House Office Building
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202)225-3376
Fax: (202)225-5652

Rep. Dennis Ross (R), Dist. 15:
229 Cannon HOB
Washington, D.C. 20515
Phone: (202) 225-1252 
Fax: (202) 226-0585

Rep. Vern Buchanan (R), Dist. 16:
2104 Rayburn HOB
Washington, DC 20515
Phone: (202) 225-5015
Fax: (202) 226-0828

Sen. Marco Rubio (R)
284 Russell Senate Office Building
Washington DC, 20510
Phone: 202-224-3041

Sen. Bill Nelson (D)
United States Senate
716 Senate Hart Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
Phone: 202-224-5274
Fax: 202-228-2183


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