Donald Trump’s celebration on the National Mall will reportedly use $2.5 million in funds set aside for the maintenance of national parks, and Democrats are furious.
As The Inquisitr previously reported, the Independence Day celebration on the National Mall will feature a military plane flyover, a speech by the president, and the tanks Trump reportedly demanded for the celebration. But according to The Hill, Democratic lawmakers and environmental activists are upset with the plan, which will take funds gathered through park entrance and usage fees to pay for the event.
Critics say that diverting the funds could be against the law and will harm national parks since the money represents a substantial part of the park’s budget. Others say that the event will amount to a campaign rally, so public funding should not be used for the event.
“These fees are not a slush fund for this administration to use at will. They are meant to improve our national parks, keep them safe and protected for Americans to enjoy, and are clearly not to be used for a political rally,” said Betty McCollum, who chairs the Appropriations subcommittee that oversees the Interior Department.
This isn’t the only financial challenge that the parks have faced. The Trump administration has discussed cutting the budget on numerous occasions, and the National Park Service is facing nearly $12 billion in backlog maintenance.
The National Park Service is diverting nearly $2.5 million — primarily intended to improve parks across the country — to cover costs associated with Trump's July 4th celebration on the Mall, two individuals familiar with the arrangement tell WaPo.https://t.co/9pgPCsVgHk— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) July 2, 2019
Critics point out that beyond the partisan tone of the event, there are also concerns that because the president has offered VIP tickets to his wealthiest donors and administration appointees that the event will essentially take money from average Americans to support an event for the wealthy and well-connected. Democratic Senator Ron Wyden from Oregon weighed in on the issue.
“Trump is stealing National Park Service resources and using the military as a political prop to turn the Fourth of July into a rally for his wealthiest donors,” he said. “This is the stuff of authoritarian regimes, exactly what patriotic Americans were fighting against in 1776. Congressional Republicans who shrug at this will be complicit when Trump takes his authoritarian ambitions to the next level.”
Trump has defended the costs of the celebration by saying that it will be worth the price tag for what the people are getting. However, the president has refused to reveal the actual cost of the event. Democrats are calling for an investigation into the expenses associated with the celebration.