Pa. House Democrats clean up Valley Forge National Park amid federal government shutdown

Freshmen Reps. Ciresi, Howard, Shusterman and Webster join forces to lend their support to a historic site

KING OF PRUSSIA, Jan. 11 – Four freshman Democratic state representatives spent Thursday morning picking up trash at Valley Forge National Park, helping to keep the historic site beautiful during the ongoing federal government shutdown.

State Reps. Joe Ciresi, Kristine Howard, Melissa Shusterman and Joe Webster were joined by the staffs of U.S. Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D-Chester/Berks, and state Sen. Katie Muth, D-Montgomery, at the National Memorial Arch.

The newly sworn-in lawmakers said President Trump’s partial government shutdown means more than 800,000 hardworking Americans, including those who usually keep Valley Forge National Park looking spectacular, are furloughed and entering a financial bind. Friday, which was supposed to be a payday for federal employees, instead marks the record-tying 21st day of the shutdown. For national parks, that means nobody on site to collect trash or service restrooms.

So the four first-time Pa. representatives came together at Valley Forge to take a stand and lend some helping hands.

“This is really about true public service and stepping up when there is a need in the community,” said Ciresi, who’s asked members of his staff to volunteer at least once a month with a service organization of their choice. “I didn’t run for office to sit at a desk in Harrisburg. Valley Forge is near all of our districts, so it’s up to us and all of you to help keep it beautiful.”

Added Howard: “We are lending a hand on behalf of all Americans who simply want this shutdown to end before irreparable damage is done to our beautiful parks and to alleviate the burden on the commonwealth’s furloughed federal employees.”

Said Shusterman: “It was incredible to see the engagement that this cause inspired. Valley Forge Park is a keystone of community life for so many. My fellow freshmen representatives and I are here to let these districts know that government can still work with and for them.”

Webster summarized the morning’s cleanup: “Sometimes it’s quite effective to use our hands instead of our voices. But the message is about clean parks, clean woods and streams, and government that works for the people.”

For more information on Thursday morning’s trash cleanup, contact Mike Hays from Ciresi’s office via cell phone at 215-353-6142 or by email