(WASHINGTON, D.C.) – Today, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 221-207 to adopt Congressman Jamie Raskin’s (MD-08) amendment to the Fiscal Year 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to prohibit the spending of taxpayer dollars on military parades and displays for the personal and political purposes of the President outside of authorized military operations or activities.
“The unprecedented military extravaganza on the Mall on the Fourth of July, ordered on a whim by the President but funded by American taxpayers, was a shameful waste of millions of dollars of the people’s money. It may have delighted the President and the big Republican donors he gave tickets for front-row seats, but it did nothing for the armed services or the American people,” said Rep. Jamie Raskin.
“President Trump has promised to bring his Banana Republican version of Independence Day back in 2020, but the House just passed my amendment, which will stop a repeat of this obscene waste of taxpayer money on such a profligate private fantasy. What we saw at the Lincoln Memorial has nothing to do with official military purposes or the kinds of customary ceremonial duties that will still be allowed under our legislation. We have no kings here and we will not allow the president to act like one with the people’s money.”
At the president’s insistence, this year’s July 4th celebration featured seven flyovers of 24 aircraft, ceremonial units, displays of tanks and other military equipment on the National Mall, an unprecedented presidential speech in front of the Lincoln Memorial, and hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of fireworks that generated so much smoke, they could barely be seen by the people sitting on the National Mall.
The National Park Service was forced to divert $2.5 million in park fees to help cover the costs for the event. The Washington Post estimated that the combined hourly rate of the seven flyovers of assorted military aircraft – like the B-2 Stealth Bomber, F-22 Raptors, and F-35 Lightnings – would have cost at least $560,000 per hour.
The Defense Department said this week that it used money from the military services’ training budgets to pay for the demonstrations and spent additional funds to transport the military equipment. And just yesterday we learned that it cost D.C. $1.7 million, an amount that – combined with police expenses for the demonstrations throughout the weekend – has wiped-out funding intended to protect the nation’s capital.
Rep. Raskin’s amendment still permits traditional ceremonial displays, including the Presidential Salute Battery, The Old Guard, Fife and Drum Corps, Blue Angels, and Thunderbirds, that have been used at Independence Day celebrations and similar events.
You can watch Rep. Raskin’s floor speech in support of his amendment here.