Who decides what stays shut down and what doesn't

10:15 PM, Oct 9, 2013   |    comments
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The U.S. Capitol is shown as the U.S. Congress remains gridlocked over legislation to continue funding the federal government September 30, 2013 in Washington, DC(Photo by Win McNamee/Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (WUSA9) -- As we say goodbye to day 9 of the government shutdown, you may have heard about some services and workers that are back in business, despite being originally part of the shutdown. 

So, who decides what stays shut and what doesn't? 

This past Tuesday, the National Mall was closed to you and me, but open to an immigration rally.  A spokesperson saying the National Park Service gave it the OK, all because of the groups rights under the First Amendment. 

Allan Lichtman is a political historian and Professor at American University. He says, "That is an interpretation and who is to question it? It's self enforced by the federal government itself. There's the old anti-deficiency act passed way back in the late19th century that says you can't run the federal government supposedly without appropriations, but there are exceptions."

After the deal was made to keep our military paid, the Pentagon interpreted the language and determined the $100,000 dollar death benefit paid to the families of those killed in action wasn't part of it. Lichtman says, "The defense department has a right to interpret the laws under which it is governed and if you're going to challenge it you have to go to court, and that's not going to happen."

In the meantime, the House voted to reinstate that benefit, but Hagel made a deal with the private charity Fisher House to foot the bill until everything gets worked out. 

WUSA9 asked Lichtman if this could be a political move. His answer, "It's all theater but it's theater of the absurd. It truly makes us look absurd in the eyes of the world and that's not good." 

Another thing that is surviving the shutdown is the House gym. But, we hear there's no towel service. 

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