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 TrumpLawmakers prep ahead of impeachment hearing Democrats gear up for high-stakes Judiciary hearing Warren says she made almost M from legal work over past three decades MORE has requested.

The senators sent a letter to Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThreatening foreign states with sanctions can backfire Overnight Defense: Erdoğan gets earful from GOP senators | Amazon to challenge Pentagon cloud contract decision in court | Lawmakers under pressure to pass benefits fix for military families Amazon to challenge Pentagon's 'war cloud' decision in federal court 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 ReedRepublicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members Overnight Defense: Trump clashes with Macron at NATO summit | House impeachment report says Trump abused power | Top Dem scolds military leaders on Trump intervention in war crimes cases Top Armed Services Democrat scolds military leaders on Trump's intervention in war crimes cases MORE (R.I.), Senate Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee ranking member Dick DurbinRichard (Dick) Joseph DurbinSupreme Court poised to hear first major gun case in a decade Protecting the future of student data privacy: The time to act is now Overnight Health Care: Crunch time for Congress on surprise medical bills | CDC confirms 47 vaping-related deaths | Massachusetts passes flavored tobacco, vaping products ban 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 LeahyTrump brings pardoned soldiers on stage at Florida fundraiser: report ICE emerges as stumbling block in government funding talks Republicans raise concerns over Trump pardoning service members 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.