Trump deflects on steep price for his July 4 military display
WASHINGTON (CN) – On the eve of what is promised to be an extravagant military display for Independence Day, President Donald Trump played down financial concerns.
“The cost of our great salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it is worth,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews [Air Force Base]), all we need is the fuel. We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats. Nice!”
Trump’s “Salute to America” July 4 celebration still does not have a publicly known price tag, but the Washington Post reported Tuesday that the National Park Service will cover “just a fraction” of the event by repurposing $2.5 million meant for park-improvement projects.
The Park Service did not return a request seeking confirmation of such reporting.
According to the Defense Department’s reimbursement rates, the F-35A, one of the aircraft reportedly involved in the flyover, costs $17,701 per flight hour. Others, such as the B-2A come with a $59,000 price tag.
Trump is expected to speak at the event, which is also scheduled to feature military bands, flyovers from military aircraft and tanks rolling through the nation’s capital. As usual, the day will culminate in a fireworks show over the National Mall in downtown Washington, which Trump has promised will be “the biggest fireworks show Washington, D.C., has ever seen.”
“Our July 4th Salute to America at the Lincoln Memorial is looking to be really big,” Trump tweeted earlier this morning. “It will be the show of a lifetime!”
Democrats have accused Trump of using the celebration to politicize the Independence Day holiday and for using taxpayer dollars for what will amount to a political rally.
“This is beyond the pale,” tweeted New Mexico Senator Tom Udall, who serves as the top Democrat on a Senate subcommittee that oversees the Department of the Interior, responding to the Washington Post story. “The American people pay these entrance fees to make improvements at our national parks – not to boost President Trump’s campaign. The National Mall is not the place to hold a de facto political rally.”
Presidents typically do not participate publicly in the Fourth of July festivities on the National Mall, and the expected inclusion of tanks and other military vehicles is also unusual. Exact details of Trump’s speech are not yet known, but White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway has mentioned several topics Trump is expected to touch on in the remarks.
“Thematically, how wonderful this country is, our troops and military, our great democracy and a great call to patriotism, the success of this administration in opening up so many jobs for individuals, what we’ve done for veterans,” Conway told reporters on Tuesday.
According to the Associated Press, the Pentagon is still working to coordinate flyovers of several different types of military aircraft, including a B-2 stealth bomber and fighter jets.