Women’s March Will Go On, Shutdown or Not

National Park Service has a contingency plan if it comes to that

Protesters march down Independence Avenue in Washington during the Women's March on Washington the day after Inauguration Day last year. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

The 2018 Women’s March in Washington will move forward as planned on Saturday despite a looming government shutdown.

An estimated 5,500 marchers will gather at the Lincoln Memorial Reflecting Pool at 11 a.m. for a series of speeches before winding their way east down Constitution Avenue and north to the White House gates to advocate for women’s inclusion in the political process.

The Reflecting Pool, which runs down the western end of the National Mall, is maintained by the National Park Service. 

A shutdown would furlough roughly 87 percent of the nearly 25,000 National Park Service employees until Congress can pass a spending measure to put them back to work.

All over the country, parks and monuments under NPS jurisdiction would be closed to visitors until Congress reaches a spending deal.

But the bureau has issued a “special provision ... for first amendment activities in the National Mall and Memorial Parks” to carry on during a shutdown, according to a “contingency plan” outlined last September.

McConnell, Durbin Make Their Case As Shutdown Looms

While NPS would be understaffed across the country if the government shuts down, it would retain roughly 3,300 employees, including 652 U.S. Park Police officers, for “essential activities” such as “protecting life and property” on NPS parks premises.

It is unclear if a shutdown would have an effect on the number of security personnel officers from Park Police patrolling the Mall during the march.

The Park Police referred any queries regarding consequences of a shutdown to the Interior Department and the Office of Management and Budget, neither of which could be reached for comment.

A spokesman for the National Park Service did not respond to multiple requests by phone and email for comment.

Organizers expect just a fraction of the turnout from last year, when 500,000 people flooded the Mall, and the D.C. Metro Police Department has not issued any advance road closings for Saturday, a spokeswoman said.

The MPD expects to temporarily block 17th Street NW from Constitution to H Street when marchers begin filtering through.

Democratic Sen. Tim Kaine of Virginia is slated to deliver a speech during the pre-march rally.

Get breaking news alerts and more from Roll Call on your iPhone or your Android.