The government shutdown cast a lot of gloom over Washington Tuesday when hundreds of thousands of government workers were furloughed, the Smithsonian museums were closed and the Zoo's "panda cam" was turned off. But a few unexpected moments brought some relief to Washington's gridlock. Here are the three moments that made Washington smile.
WWII Veterans Visit Memorials Anyway
A government shutdown could not stop the so-called greatest generation Tuesday.
While a National Park sign clearly showed a barricaded World War II memorial, veterans visiting Washington broke through.
According to a report by CNN, members of Congress removed a blockade and ushered dozens of veterans, some in wheelchairs and on walkers, through to the war monument. Sen. Tom Harkin, D-Iowa, tried to call the Department of Interior to open up the monument before the veterans arrived. But he couldn't get through. Security stood by, ignoring original orders that the memorial, as a national park, was closed because of the government's shutdown.
A spokesman from the National Park Service said the veterans were "important visitors."
Republican lawmakers including Rep. Louie Gohmert, R-Texas, Steve King, R-Iowa, and Michele Bachmann, R-Minn., all admonished the National Park Service's treatment of the veterans.
"We've got park service employees out here," Gohmert told CNN. "Why wouldn't you have them here to allow the veterans in, instead of stand and keep them from coming in."
Many of the veterans at the memorial were visiting through the Honor Flight program, a nonprofit network that pays for WWII veterans from all over the country to be flown to Washington for a short trip to see the monuments and be celebrated.
Members of Congress Donate Their Pay
Staffers on Capitol Hill and at dozens of federal agencies across the country were put on unpaid leave Tuesday. Meanwhile, the leaders who got America into this mess, members of Congress and President Barack Obama can still cash their paychecks. In an effort to share the pain, a few lawmakers said they are standing in solidarity with their employees and refusing a paycheck. Some members of Congress even announced Tuesday, they'd turn over a fraction of their $174,000 annual salary to charity.
According to the Washington Post, more than 20 members of Congress are forgoing their pay during the shutdown including Rep. Scott Rigell, R-Va., Rep. Mark Sanford, R-S.C., and Rep. Ann Wagner, R-Mo.
Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, announced in a press release Tuesday that "he will not accept his federal salary accrued during the government shutdown and will instead donate it." Brown, a now-veteran, of shutdowns forked over a portion of his salary to charities in his congressional district back in 1995 when he was a member of the House of Representatives.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, also announced he would donate his pay.
Military Will Get Paid During Shutdown
Republicans and Democrats were not able to make it to the negotiating before the stroke of midnight Tuesday morning, but Congress and the White House agreed on one thing just hours before the shutdown: the military should get paid.
Obama signed a bill passed easily out of Congress that would ensure that America's men and women in uniform could continue to collect their paychecks.
"The threats to our national security have not changed, and we need you to be ready for any contingency," Obama said. "If you're service in harm's way, we're going to make sure you have what you need to succeed in your missions."