Hawaii high school senior gets front-row seat to shutdown - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Hawaii high school senior gets front-row seat to shutdown

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Joey Brown at the Lincoln Memorial Joey Brown at the Lincoln Memorial
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) -

Joey Brown is a senior at Hawaii Baptist Academy and wants to enter politics. His first-ever trip to the nation's capital was supposed to give him a first-hand look at how the federal government works.   

Instead, he got a front-row seat to the shutdown.

Brown and his father left for the mainland on September 29. Just a day later, the partial shutdown of the federal government began.

Their first stop was New York. "Our first disappointment was not being able to see the Statue of Liberty because of the shutdown," said Brown. "But we knew a lot more problem would arise once we went to D.C. because everything would be shut down there."

Brown's plans to visit the memorials in Washington were dashed at first. He went to the Lincoln Memorial and found it surrounded by barricades, saying it was closed. He tried to snap some photos, and then began to leave. But then a member of Congress intervened.

"We just heard a lot of commotion all of a sudden, so we turned around and we see the barricade was moved, and Michele Bachman was leading a group of people up to go see the Lincoln Memorial up close," he said.

U.S. Parks Police talked briefly with  the Minnesota Republican congresswoman, but didn't take any action to stop the visitors, so the Browns went ahead and got their close-up look at Lincoln.

Brown faced another disappointment when he couldn't visit the U.S. Capitol building.

"I just couldn't help but think like, this is the people's house, and they're blocking it off to the people, and we can't see our own house."

Brown and his father had a tour scheduled through the office of Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI First Congressional District), but the tour was cancelled because of the shutdown. However, the two decided to visit her office, which was still open. Gabbard arrived as they were leaving, and Brown took the opportunity to tell her that he wanted to go into politics some day.

"She said, 'Well, we're about to vote soon, and you can come with me and I'll take you to the House chambers, and you can watch the vote,'" said Brown.

Brown said getting to sit in the House of Representatives was the highlight of the trip.

"She actually took us through the tunnels that members use, and then I got to sit down and watch the House vote, in the House Chamber" he said. "It was amazing."

While Brown and his father were disappointed that they weren't able to see everything that they had planned to visit, he'll probably get another chance. He plans to attend American University in Washington. 

He also isn't letting the shutdown deter him from his dreams of running for Congress. "I really want to make a change, and I think being in Congress, that would allow me to make more of a bipartisan atmosphere over there."