Senate Dems demand answers on cost of Trump's military parade proposal

Senate Dems demand answers on cost of Trump's military parade proposal
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A group of Senate Democrats is demanding answers from the Pentagon on the estimated cost and amount of time spent to put together a military parade that President TrumpDonald John TrumpNASA exec leading moon mission quits weeks after appointment The Hill's Morning Report — After contentious week, Trump heads for Japan Frustration boils over with Senate's 'legislative graveyard' MORE has requested.

The senators sent a letter to Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisShanahan orders new restrictions on sharing of military operations with Congress: report Pentagon reporters left in dark as Iran tensions escalate Trump officials slow-walk president's order to cut off Central American aid: report MORE on Wednesday questioning the impact such a parade would have on taxpayers and how it would affect the military in the midst of the 17-year war in Afghanistan.

"At a time of war, with American service members serving in harm’s way, such a parade seems to be inappropriate and wasteful," the Democratic lawmakers wrote in the letter.

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"Every penny of the millions of dollars that the parade would cost and every second of the tens of thousands of personnel hours its execution would require, should be devoted to the most essential missions of the Department of Defense – protecting the American people and our security interests."

The letter was sent by Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member Jack ReedJohn (Jack) Francis ReedSenate panel advances Trump's Space Force Senate panel rejects Trump plan to skirt budget caps, advances defense bill that backfills wall money Overnight Defense: Iran worries dominate foreign policy talk | Pentagon reportedly to send WH plans for 10K troops in Mideast | Democrats warn Trump may push through Saudi arms sale | Lawmakers blast new Pentagon policy on sharing info MORE (R.I.), Senate Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee ranking member Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinThreat of impeachment takes oxygen out of 2019 agenda Senate Democrats request watchdog, Red Cross probe DHS detention facilities Iraq War looms over Trump battle with Iran MORE (Ill.) as well as Sens. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersSenate Commerce chair to renew push for regs on self-driving vehicles Senate Dems introduce election security bill requiring paper ballots Bipartisan group of senators introduce legislation designed to strengthen cybersecurity of voting systems MORE (D-Mich.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahySenate passes disaster aid bill after deal with Trump GOP senators work to get Trump on board with new disaster aid package Chances for disaster aid deal slip amid immigration fight MORE (D-Vt.).

Mattis earlier on Wednesday dodged questions on the cost of a military parade, which Trump reportedly requested during a Jan. 18 meeting between himself and top generals in the Pentagon’s tank, a room for top secret discussions.

“I think we’re all aware in this country of the president’s affection and respect for the military. We’ve been putting together some options. We’ll send them up to the White House for decision,” Mattis told reporters at the White House.

The Senate Democrats, however, want more concrete answers by Feb. 23, including the anticipated total budget for the parade, the routine Defense Department training, operations or functions that would be impacted, the total hours needed to plan and execute the event and how the parade's costs would rank compared to annual unfunded requirements.

The lawmakers also expressed concern over the reports that Trump directed ‎the Pentagon to deliver the parade during discussions in the tank "during what should have been a discussion of the impact of budget negotiations on the Department."

Trump has long expressed a desire for a display of the nation's military’s might in Washington, including publicly musing about such an event after witnessing Bastille Day celebrations in France last summer. 

The president reportedly wanted to include tanks and missile launchers in his inauguration parade last year, and he has also considered a military parade for the Fourth of July.

Numerous lawmakers on both sides of the aisle have since spoken out against such an event, saying it wastes valuable time and dollars during a period of already constrained budgets. Others have criticized the optics, saying it evokes Soviet Union- and North Korea-style displays.