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Mattis dodges on cost of military parade

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisBiden's is not a leaky ship of state — not yet Rejoining the Iran nuclear deal would save lives of US troops, diplomats The soft but unmatched power of US foreign exchange programs MORE on Wednesday dodged a question about why the Pentagon should spend time and money planning a military parade requested by President TrumpDonald TrumpEx-DOJ official Rosenstein says he was not aware of subpoena targeting Democrats: report Ex-Biden adviser says Birx told him she hoped election turned out 'a certain way' Cheney rips Arizona election audit: 'It is an effort to subvert democracy' MORE

Asked during a White House press briefing why the Pentagon would "divert time, energy, financial resources" to fulfill Trump's request for a military parade amid defense budget woes, Mattis responded that the parade request is an example of Trump's "respect" for the military.

“I think what my responsibility is to make certain I lay out the strategy and make the argument for the oversight of Congress to make the determination of fully funding us. As far as the parade goes again, the president’s respect, his fondness for the military, I think is reflected in him asking for these options,” Mattis told reporters. 

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On Tuesday night, the White House confirmed a report from The Washington Post that Trump requested the Pentagon begin planning a military parade.

The Pentagon is reportedly eyeing holding the parade on Veterans Day, which this year coincides with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I.

Trump has long expressed a desire for a display of the military’s might in the nation’s capital. He reportedly wanted to include tanks and missile launchers in his inauguration parade, and has also considered a military parade for the Fourth of July.

The idea of such a parade has prompted sharp criticism, with some saying it evokes Soviet Union- and North Korea-style displays. Others have said they understand Trump’s sentiment but that now is not the time to spend money on a parade.

Mattis started his remarks in the White House briefing room by reiterating much of his opening statement from a House hearing the day earlier, in which he bluntly laid out the harmful effects Congress’s budget dysfunction has on the military.

He added that he’s hopeful a budget deal announced by Senate leaders Wednesday would bring an end to the turmoil.

“Today’s congressional action will ensure our military can defend our way of life, preserve the promise of prosperity and pass on the freedoms you and I enjoy to the next generation,” he said.

Asked about the status of planning of a parade and cost estimates, Mattis told reporters the Pentagon is working on options to present Trump.

“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,” he said.