Trump's military parade faces resistance from federal, local officials
The planning for President Trump’s military parade may be in its infancy, but already lawmakers and local officials are stepping in to try to put the brakes on the idea. The White House and Pentagon confirmed reports this week that Trump is mulling over a large military parade designed to showcase the strength of the military and appreciation for the troops. He got the idea from the Bastille Day celebration he and first lady Melania Trump attended as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron last year.
“It was one of the greatest parades I’ve ever seen,” Trump said at the time. “It was two hours on the button, and it was military might, and I think a tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France.” “We’re going to have to try to top it,” he added. According to reports, the president is interested in a military parade taking place down Pennsylvania Avenue, with a potential date of Veterans Day, which coincides this year with the 100-year anniversary of the end of World War I.
But already, members of Congress are working to quash Trump’s wishes for a military parade. Rep. Brad Schneider, D-Ill., introduced the “Preparedness Before Parades” Act on Thursday, which would require the president to obtain approval for a “large-scale military parade” from the secretary of defense and the municipal government where the event would be held.
The event could only move forward if the Executive Office of the President, which has an annual budget of £700 million, paid at least half of parade costs. The bill also requires the defense secretary to certify “the parade will have no effect on the military readiness or budgetary needs of the Armed Forces.” Sen.
Ben Cardin, D-Md., also introduced a bill Thursday that would prohibit the use of federal funds for a military parade. “First and foremost, diverting millions of dollars away from training our troops and supporting our military, especially at a time when Congress is struggling to pass annual appropriations, should be enough to kill this idea. We need every dollar possible to maintain the readiness and safety of our troops,” Cardin said in a statement. “Equally important, President Trump should understand that America doesn’t have to display its military might like North Korea or others who need to puff up their importance.
The world understands our strength; it is demonstrated every day around the world by the brave men and women of our military.” A military parade throughout Washington, D.C., would require significant cooperation from the District of Columbia’s local government, which provides logistics and is “on the front lines” for federal events, said Christopher Rodriguez, acting director of the District of Columbia’s Homeland Security and Emergency Management Agency. “It is the district and its personnel that are providing the on-the-ground security and logistics to ensure these events operate smoothly,” Rodriguez told the Washington Examiner.
Rodriguez said the district hasn’t received any communication from the Trump administration regarding a military parade, but estimated such an event would be on a scale equal to or greater than the inauguration. Last year, Trump’s inauguration cost the District of Columbia £30 million, of which £19.9 million was reimbursed by the federal government. Rodriguez said the city is prepared to handle a military parade, but he worries about the impact a military parade would have on the district financially.
“We have to absorb a lot of costs associated with providing these events, and at a time when the security requirements are increasing,” he said. “The share that Congress and the administration allocate for security has been declining over the last several years.” Rodriguez stressed that the district would need to know as soon as possible from the Trump administration whether a military parade were to be scheduled for November. D.C.
Mayor Muriel Bowser told reporters Wednesday her office hadn’t received any official notice from the federal government about any celebration, and noted the district “will always be concerned with its impact on the city, the impact on safety, pulling personnel, and our roadways, and the attention it would attract.” In the wake of reports about a potential celebration honoring the military, some members of the District of Columbia Council signaled their opposition to the event. “The DC government will open on time today.
DC Public Schools will open on time today. Sadly, the Giant Tank Parade is cancelled. Permanently,” the DC Council tweeted Wednesday.
Charles Allen, a Democratic member of the D.C. Council, also panned the idea of a military parade. “Military parade down the streets of DC to feed an insecure man’s fragile ego?
That’d be a big no,” he tweeted Tuesday night. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, D-D.C., a nonvoting member of the House of Representatives, further threw cold water on the idea of a military parade through the district.
“President’s Trump’s desire to spend millions of taxpayer dollars on a military parade in the style of authoritarian leaders he admires would feed his ego and perhaps his base, rather than serve any legitimate purpose or keep with any long-held American traditions,” she said in a statement. “While the District of Columbia, as the nation’s capital, is proud to host grand federal celebrations, such as the inauguration, we will fight a shutdown of our city that simply assuages Trump’s desire to brag and boast in a series of tweets.” Holmes Norton suggested the Trump administration use the money that would pay for a military parade to fund healthcare and other services for veterans and service members. Trump is not only facing opposition from Democrats in the nation’s capital over the idea of a military parade.
Mayors of the largest cities in the country have also rejected the idea of such an event coming to them. The Democratic mayors of New York, Chicago, and Philadelphia said they would be opposed to a military parade in their respective cities, according to Reuters. “The president has spent the past year threatening to cut critical public safety funding for cities … so, no, we would not be interested,” Mike Dunn, a spokesman for Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney, told Reuters.
If the president struggles to find a location outside of the District of Columbia for a military parade, he may find a friendlier reception in at least one place: Fort Worth, Texas. “Fort Worth is one of the most military-friendly cities in the nation and would be honored to host,” Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price, a Republican, said. The Pentagon has said planning for such an event is in the early stages, and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told reporters during Wednesday’s White House press briefing it was “putting together some options” to send to the White House for a final decision.
“The president’s respect, his fondness for the military, I think, is reflected in him asking for these options,” Mattis said.
White House press secretary Sarah Sanders also said Trump is “exploring different ways that he can highlight and show the pride that we have in the military, the people that have served and sacrificed to allow us all the freedoms that we have.”