New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced he will use state funds to keep the Statue of Liberty open to visitors during the federal government shutdown during a press conference on Sunday.
Cuomo, a Democrat, said the landmark in New York Harbor will be “back to work tomorrow.”
“When the Statue of Liberty closes, it disrupts many tourists’ plans,” Cuomo said. “We’ve contacted the federal Department of the Interior and we worked out an arrangement where New York State will fund the federal employees who operate the Statue of Liberty so it will reopen tomorrow at state expense.”
The Statue of Liberty is located on Liberty Island within the state of New York, but it is operated by the federal National Park Service. When the Senate failed to approve legislation to keep the government from shutting down before midnight Saturday, the National Park Service announced that the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island would close immediately until further notice.
“From our point of view, it’s a good investment because the revenue we gain from the tourists is multiples of what it will cost to actually pay to open the Statue of Liberty,” Cuomo said. “Again, we want to keep tourism flowing, we want people coming and we don’t want any disruption. So our arrangement with the federal Department of Interior will last for the period of shutdown.”
After the government shut down at midnight on Saturday, visitors found boat trips to the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island were canceled and signs were posted at the departure area explaining that the shutdown forced the closure.
Cuomo said keeping the Statue of Liberty open is important because it’s symbolic of the debate about immigration currently halting work in Congress right now.
“The issue is about immigration and the sense that some people have that this country should close the doors and stop immigration,” Cuomo said. “The concept of closing the doors to immigrants is repugnant to the concept of America.”