Rep. John D. Dingell, a Michigan Democrat and former Sen. Robert Dole, a Kansas Republican, are asking Congress to take "immediate action" to re-open the federal government.
Their letter comes as the World War II memorial has become a flashpoint in the budget shutdown controversy, with veterans groups protesting barricades at the site and members of Congress trading charges of blame. (Texas Republican Rep. Randy Neugebauer drew criticism for confronting a National Park Service ranger over access to the site -- several days after telling a radio show that he'd keep the government shut down for "as long as it takes" to overturn President Obama's health care law.)
In an open letter, Dingell and Dole describe themselves as "proud World War II veterans blessed also to serve this great nation in Congress" and say they consider their bipartisan work to help create a National World War II Memorial to be "among our greatest accomplishments and a true honor to our brothers-in-arms.
"If this Congress truly wishes to recognize the sacrifice and bravery of our World War II veterans and all who’ve come after, it will end this shutdown and re-open our government now," they wrote.
"The current shutdown has slowed the rate at which the government can process veterans’ disability claims and, as the VA has stated, it is negatively impacting other services to our nation’s veterans," they said.
Republican lawmakers have blamed the Obama administration for the shutdown and sought to pass separate funding bills to keep parts of the government open. But the two said "piecemeal or partial spending plans do not adequately ensure that our veterans – and indeed all Americans – have access to the system of self-government established to serve and protect them."