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 TrumpDemocrats ask if they have reason to worry about UK result Trump scramble to rack up accomplishments gives conservatives heartburn Seven years after Sandy Hook, the politics of guns has changed MORE has requested.

The senators sent a letter to Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisOvernight Defense: Mattis downplays Afghanistan papers | 'We probably weren't that good at' nation building | Judiciary panel approves two impeachment articles | Stage set for House vote next week James Mattis: Afghanistan papers not 'revelatory' Overnight Defense: Watchdog to audit company's border wall contract | Pentagon to step up vetting of foreign students after Pensacola | Report finds former defense official sexually harassed staffers 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 ReedGabbard calls for congressional inquiry over Afghanistan war report Gillibrand demands hearing following release of 'Afghanistan Papers' Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members MORE (R.I.), Senate Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee ranking member Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinLawmakers introduce bill taxing e-cigarettes to pay for anti-vaping campaigns Senators zero in on shadowy court at center of IG report Senate gears up for battle over witnesses in impeachment trial MORE (Ill.) as well as Sens. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersTrump to hold campaign rally in Michigan Senators sound alarm on dangers of ransomware attacks after briefing GOP set for all-out battle over Michigan Senate seat MORE (D-Mich.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyHorowitz offers troubling picture of FBI's Trump campaign probe Horowitz: 'We found no bias' in decision to open probe Horowitz: 'Very concerned' about FBI leaks to Giuliani 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.