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 TrumpBusiness school deans call for lifting country-specific visa caps Bolton told ex-Trump aide to call White House lawyers about Ukraine pressure campaign: report Federal prosecutors in New York examining Giuliani business dealings with Ukraine: report MORE has requested.

The senators sent a letter to Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisUS leaves dozens of 'high value' ISIS detainees behind amid Syria retreat: report White House officials stand by Syria withdrawal, sanctions delay amid bipartisan pushback Sunday shows — Officials rush to Trump's defense on Syria, sanctions 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 ReedFury over Trump Syria decision grows Democrats warn Trump's Turkey sanctions don't go far enough Democrats urge Rick Perry not to roll back lightbulb efficiency rules MORE (R.I.), Senate Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee ranking member Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSenators take fundraising efforts to Nats playoff games Overnight Health Care: Watchdog finds DEA allowed more opioids even as overdose deaths rose | Judge temporarily blocks Georgia abortion law | Three states report more vaping deaths | Dem proposes new fix for surprise medical bills During impeachment storm, senators cross aisle to lessen mass incarceration MORE (Ill.) as well as Sens. Gary PetersGary Charles PetersOvernight Health Care — Presented by Coalition Against Surprise Medical Billing — Planned Parenthood charges into 2020 | PhRMA CEO warns against Pelosi drug pricing bill | Medicaid work requirements costing states millions Bipartisan senators want federal plan for sharing more info on supply chain threats Planned Parenthood issues first wave of 2020 House, Senate endorsements MORE (D-Mich.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyRand Paul calls for probe of Democrats over Ukraine letter Senator questions agencies on suicide prevention, response after Epstein's death in federal custody During impeachment storm, senators cross aisle to lessen mass incarceration 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.