The National Park Service will be redirecting nearly $2.5 million to help cover the cost of Donald Trump's extravagant Independence Day spectacle in Washington D.C., the Washington Post reports. Per the president's direction, the upcoming celebration will include tanks on the National Mall, military flyovers in the airspace above, his own televised address, and the "biggest ever" fireworks show.
The National Park funding being diverted is normally allocated towards national park restoration across the country, which includes the enhancement of the National Mall. According to two unnamed officials familiar with the deal, the federal agency typically spends $2 million on the annual celebration, however, the $2.5 million "represent just a fraction of the extra costs the government faces" for Trump's “Salute to America” spectacle.
The entire National Park System, which oversees 418 national parks, currently has over $11.92 billion in deferred repairs due to budget constraints.
The upcoming celebration has been peddled by Trump for months, which he says will spotlight the “strongest and most advanced” military on the planet. However, as many critics have already noted, the ceremony will likely function, at least in part, as Trump's salute to himself. As noted by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser, “as just an American who loves celebrating the Fourth of July as a nonpolitical event,” she has “some concerns about a president not celebrating the military but glorifying military might. That scares me the most.”
Members of the Senate Appropriations Committee, which directs funding for such events, have also expressed fears over who will be responsible for footing the bill for the elaborate performance. "There's going to be a big price tag for this and the taxpayers will have to pick up the tab," Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) said.
It remains unclear how much the celebration will cost, which has proved concerning to legislators. "We haven't heard anything," Sen. Tom Udall (D-NM) said. "It's disturbing."
Politicians and journalists took to Twitter after news of the $2.5 million figure circulated, condemning the president's reckless use of federal funding.