Top Democrat warns Trump against using Park Service fees for July 4 event

Rep. Betty McCollumBetty Louise McCollumBiden leads 2020 pack in congressional endorsements Let's prevent irreparable harm to an irreplaceable wilderness area Democrats secure fast-track to the floor for Canada-Mexico trade deal MORE (D-Minn.), who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees Interior Department spending, threatened on Wednesday to investigate the reported use of National Park Service entrance fees to finance President TrumpDonald John TrumpWhere do we go from here? Conservation can show the way Gov. Ron DeSantis more popular in Florida than Trump Sotomayor accuses Supreme Court of bias in favor of Trump administration MORE's July Fourth celebration on the National Mall.

"Mr. Trump’s event is on federal grounds. The National Mall belongs to all of us. I’m prepared to use my full oversight authority as Chair of the Interior-Environment Appropriations Committee to determine how this decision was made and hold the responsible parties accountable," McCollum said in a statement. "This administration needs to be reminded that the power of the purse belongs to Congress.”


Trump's military-style Independence Day celebration, which he's calling "Salute to America," has drawn criticism for its price tag, use of military equipment such as tanks and fighter jets and the forced closure of nearby Reagan National Airport during a portion of the festivities.

Critics also argue that Trump is politicizing July 4 by creating a VIP area for GOP donors and appointees to observe his speech from the Lincoln Memorial at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday.

The Interior Department is reportedly diverting $2.5 million from National Park Service entrance fees to help pay for the event.

The agency used entrance fees earlier in the year to keep parks open as long as possible during a record-long partial government shutdown, something McCollum said she disagreed with and may have been illegal. The Government Accountability Office is conducting a review on those actions.

A congressional investigation of the Salute to America funding would add to the pile of inquiries into Trump initiated by the Democratic-controlled House.