Advertisement

Our coronavirus coverage is free for the first 24 hours. Find the latest information at tampabay.com/coronavirus. Please consider subscribing or donating.

  1. Archive

Congress passes budget bill as Clinton ponders veto // GOVERNMENT SHUTDOWN

They were the darlings of the 11 o'clock news.

A group of forlorn Florida fifth-graders on their class trip to Washington were barricaded from the national monuments and the Smithsonian museums because of the government-wide shutdown.

What good is seeing the Washington Monument if you can't go up inside of it? one student plaintively asked the television reporter.

Florida Democratic Sen. Bob Graham was so moved by the plight of his future constituents that he personally led classes from two Broward County elementary schools on a tour of the Capitol on Friday.

"I apologize that you've come to Washington on a week where we were tardy and we didn't get our work done," Graham said, referring to the current budget impasse. "And because we didn't get our work done you couldn't go to the Smithsonian."

But the students from Nova Eisenhower Elementary and Nova Blanche Forman Elementary seemed unfazed by the shutdown.

"We still got to see the White House from the outside," Elizabeth Conrad, 11, explained. White House tours, run by the National Park Service, ceased earlier this week when hundreds of thousands of federal workers were sent home.

Though they were unable to visit the National Air and Space Museum and the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, the students still managed to get in to see the Supreme Court and the Bureau of Printing and Engraving, where money is made.

Graham, known for his trademark "workdays" when he tries his hand at regular-guy jobs, proved to be a a competent Capitol tour guide, peppering his monologue with civics quiz questions and offering high-fives to students who called out correct answers.

NO HONEYMOON TRIP: After their wedding tonight, Bill Calary and Pamela Miller should be headed to the Canary Islands, off the northwest coast of Africa, for an exotic two-week honeymoon.

Instead, three men they don't even know are keeping them at home in Tampa.

While President Clinton battles with Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich over the budget, the resulting federal government shutdown means Calary can't replace the passport he thinks was lost in a recent move.

No passport, no trip.

But, Miller admits, the couple did have options, according to a staffer who answered the phone at U.S. Rep. Sam Gibbons' Washington office:

"She told us we had three choices. We could cancel the trip, postpone it, or hope that a relative in Spain dies," said Miller, 33.

Though they were told last week that a skeleton crew would handle passport requests through the shutdown, the couple soon learned that a death in the family was their only hope.

"We don't have any relatives in Spain, but if we did, that's pretty rude," said Miller, a physician recruiter. The 13 Canary Islands constitute two provinces of Spain.

Fortunately, they've gotten back most of the $1,500 they spent on plane tickets, Calary said, which they will put in the bank for their next vacation "to the Canaries."

GRAND CANYON IMPASSE: Gov. Fife Symington brought a force of National Guard troops and state park rangers to the Grand Canyon on Friday in an attempt to persuade the president to let him reopen Arizona's top tourist draw.

The answer was no.

The Republican governor was met by the park superintendent, who carried a letter rejecting his proposal to run the park with state workers.

But Symington saw hope in a part of the letter suggesting the state might offer to pay the full cost of running the park. He won an Interior Department agreement to start negotiations Monday.

"It's a fairly complex legal matter, but they left the door open," Symington said.

The park, which gets some 5-million visitors a year, was closed Thursday for the first time in its 76-year history.

_ Information from staff writers Jennifer S. Thomas, Helen Huntley, Shelby Oppel and the Associated Press was used in this report.

YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE

Advertisement
Advertisement