Cost of Trump’s July 4 fete starting to materialize

Cost of Trump’s July 4 fete starting to materialize

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The U.S. Marine Corps Silent Drill Platoon performs at the Salute to America Independence Day celebration in Washington, D.C., July 4, 2019. (DoD photo by Lisa Ferdinando)

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon said it spent at least $1.2 million to send equipment and handle logistics for the Independence Day fete on the National Mall ordered by President Donald Trump.

The bulk of that cost centered around the transportation and handling of two Abrams tanks and two Bradley fighting vehicles from Fort Stewart, Georgia, to Washington, D.C., for the event, Pentagon officials said.

The $1.2 million does not include the cost of the flyovers of military aircraft, which the Defense Department routinely says is an expense covered by separate training funding streams.

The B-2 bomber, a highlight of the flyover, has a non-combat operations costs of roughly $122,000 an hour, the Air Force has said.

“The Department of Defense supported the ‘Salute to America’ with demonstrations by aircraft, static displays of equipment and ceremonial unit participation,” the Pentagon said in its Tuesday statement. “Funding for the demonstrations came from the military services’ training budgets that facilitate flying hours, which are imperative to military readiness. Additional funding was used for the transportation of static displays and equipment.”

The larger bill for the event, which Trump said Monday will be repeated next year, started with $2.5 million the National Park Service diverted from national park entrance fees to help pay for the event, according to the Washington Post.

On Tuesday, Muriel Bowser, the mayor of Washington, D.C., wrote to Trump asking that the federal government reimburse the city for the $1.7 million it spent on security for the July 4 event and related demonstrations. She said the costs drained the city’s Emergency Planning and Security fund and would leave a negative balance of $6 million.

About 24 aircraft from all the services were used in the events, the Pentagon said, coming from a multitude of bases in Virginia, Florida, Georgia, Missouri and California. Three military bands from the Washington, D.C., area performed during the event at the Lincoln Memorial.

Last week three members of the Senate Appropriations Committee asked the Government Accountability Office to examine all the costs of the event.

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