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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 TrumpTrump alludes to possible 2024 run in White House remarks Trump threatens to veto defense bill over tech liability shield Tiger King's attorney believes they're close to getting pardon from Trump MORE has requested.

The senators sent a letter to Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Biden under pressure to remove Trump transgender military ban quickly Progressive House Democrats urge Biden against Defense chief with contractor ties 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 ReedJack ReedTop Democrat calls Trump's Afghan drawdown 'the right policy decision' as others warn of 'mistake' Overnight Defense: Trump fires Defense chief Mark Esper | Worries grow about rudderless post-election Pentagon | Esper firing hints at broader post-election shake-up | Pelosi says Esper firing shows Trump intent on sowing 'chaos' Esper firing hints at broader post-election shake-up MORE (R.I.), Senate Appropriations Committee Defense Subcommittee ranking member Dick DurbinDick DurbinCriminal justice groups offer support for Durbin amid fight for Judiciary spot The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Mastercard - GOP angst in Georgia; confirmation fight looms Overnight Health Care: Moderna to apply for emergency use authorization for COVID-19 vaccine candidate | Hospitals brace for COVID-19 surge | US more than doubles highest number of monthly COVID-19 cases MORE (Ill.) as well as Sens. Gary PetersGary PetersRepublican John James concedes in Michigan Senate race Hillicon Valley: YouTube suspends OANN amid lawmaker pressure | Dems probe Facebook, Twitter over Georgia runoff | FCC reaffirms ZTE's national security risk Democrats urge YouTube to remove election misinformation, step up efforts ahead of Georgia runoff MORE (D-Mich.) and Patrick LeahyPatrick Joseph LeahyTop GOP senator warns government funding deal unlikely this week Incoming Congress looks more like America The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by the UAE Embassy in Washington, DC - Trump OKs transition; Biden taps Treasury, State experience 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.