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Tourists To Congress: Don't Pat Yourselves On Back


When the budget deal was struck last night, the government did not shut down. National parks across the country were open as usual. And in Washington, D.C., the museums and monuments were crowded.

NPR's Tamara Keith spoke with visitors about the averted shutdown.

TAMARA KEITH: Delisa Higgs was up late last night watching the political drama unfold on TV. She's a teacher from Toney, Alabama, who's leading a group of 30 fifth graders and parents on a trip to the nation's capital.

Ms. DELISA HIGGS: We were praying, please, you know, let them reach an agreement.

KEITH: Their agenda for the day included the annual Cherry Blossom Parade and several museums that would have been shuddered without a deal. She found all the partisan bickering frustrating.

Ms. HIGGS: It just took a long time to get to where we are today, and I had hoped that it would be settled earlier.

KEITH: And she's not the only one.

(Soundbite of music)

KEITH: The Sprayberry High School marching band from Marietta, Georgia, was one of 13 in town for the Cherry Blossom Parade. They spent part of the week afraid the parade would be canceled.

Monica Gosnell's daughter plays flute.

Ms. MONICA GOSNELL: Typical Washington politics, you know? I'm not surprised by it.

KEITH: So I asked her a typical Washington question: Who won here, the Republicans, the Democrats, the president?

Ms. GOSNELL: Nobody, as usual. Certainly not the American people.

KEITH: I talked to a lot of people, and the reactions were remarkably similar. Not a sole said, way to go, politicians. Way to stick to your principles.

Carolyn Dempsey is visiting from New Jersey with her husband Brian and three kids.

Ms. CAROLYN DEMPSEY: It makes America look bad. If the government can't get together and decide on a budget, then America does lose and it makes our government look like they don't know what they're doing, and it's very disappointing.

KEITH: Brian Dempsey says he couldn't see a good reason for the standoff, just a lot of finger-pointing.

Mr. BRIAN DEMPSEY: It just - it makes the rest of the country think that Washington is out of touch with what the rest of the country needs.

KEITH: For Michael Anderson of Springfield, Virginia, the deal struck last night puts an end to a lot of stress and worry. He's a federal employee. He works for the Bureau of Land Management.

Mr. MICHAEL ANDERSON (Bureau of Land Management): I'm ecstatic. I love my job.

KEITH: He woke up to the news, that he'd be allowed to go to work on Monday.

Mr. ANDERSON: A little celebration going on inside, you know. I did my little Super Bowl dance, you know, to myself.

KEITH: Because if America has a budget, he gets paid. Of course, this budget is only good for another six months.

Tamara Keith, NPR News, Washington. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.