The Department of Defense said Tuesday that President Trump’s “Salute to America” event on July Fourth cost the military $1.2 million. However, there is still some uncertainty about the total cost for the Pentagon. Oriana Pawlyk of Military.com said it is “unclear how the cost for the parade, which has come under scrutiny, was calculated.”
The $1.2 million figure appears to include the cost of moving military equipment to the National Mall, notably a pair of M1 Abrams tanks and the Bradley infantry fighting vehicles that sat in front of the president during the event.
Overall, though, the “figure cited by the Pentagon does not equal the total cost to taxpayers and covers only those expenses that were paid by the military’s budget specifically,” The Hill’s Jordain Carney said. In particular, it’s not clear how the cost of the flyovers by aircraft from each of the military services is being accounted for; the Associated Press reported that those as yet undefined costs are coming out of the service’s training budgets.
The cost of the flyovers – which included MV-22 Osprey aircraft based in Virginia; F-35C Lightning II stealth jets based in California; F/A-18 Hornets based in Virginia and Florida; a B-2 Spirit bomber based in Missouri; and a Boeing 747 frequently used as Air Force One based in Maryland – was likely significant, given the high hourly operating costs of the aircraft. The B-2 bomber, for example, costs about $122,000 per hour to fly, according to Pawlyk.
The total parade cost is higher: In addition to the direct and indirect military costs, the Department of the Interior is reportedly shifting $2.5 million from funds meant to maintain national parks to cover costs related to the Trump event. And on Wednesday the mayor of Washington, Muriel E. Bowser, said that Trump’s celebration and the protests it sparked cost the city government $1.7 million, bankrupting a fund that is used to provide security at special events.
Lawmakers call for investigation: Earlier this week, Senate Democrats asked the Government Accountability Office to investigate the total cost of the event, as well as whether it violated any legal restrictions on political activity by the Trump administration.
“Congress did not specifically provide funds to cover the costs of the President’s expanded Fourth of July events, and we are very concerned by the impacts and the precedent of diverting limited Federal resources—including the use of military personnel, equipment and aircraft as well as other appropriations or visitor fees paid to improve national parks—to organize and execute unbudgeted events,” the senators said.