Lawmakers balked at the potential cost of President Donald Trump’s desired military parade after news broke Tuesday that the Pentagon was exploring possible dates.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., called the idea a “fantastic waste of money to amuse the president.”
“Take the money that the president would like to spend on this parade [and] instead, let’s make sure our troops are ready for battle and survive it and come home to their families,” Durbin, the Democratic minority whip, said on MSNBC Wednesday morning.
Rep. Lee Zeldin, R-N.Y., also expressed concerns about the parade, telling CNN on Tuesday night, “I don’t believe we should have tanks or nuclear weapons going down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
“We need to fund the entire military for the rest of the year. The continuing resolutions are absolutely not the way to go, especially as it relates to funding the Department of Defense,” Zeldin, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, said.
“Cost [of the parade] would be a factor,” he added.
The Washington Post first reported Tuesday that during a January 18 meeting between the president and top generals at the Pentagon, Trump said he wanted a large-scale military parade that would roll through the streets of Washington — and that his desire was heard as a presidential directive.
A Pentagon spokesman confirmed to NBC News Tuesday that it was looking at dates for a possible military parade that could take place in Washington in November.
While estimated sticker price for the parade has yet to be revealed, Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, tweeted Tuesday night that “a military parade costs millions.”
“Let’s fix military housing, hire more VA doctors, fund telehealth, DOD schools, support the commissaries, daycare for families, or give more flight training time,” he said.
Marc Short, the White House director of legislative affairs, defended Trump’s idea against criticisms that it would be a waste of money.
“I’m not sure that honoring our military is a waste of money,” he told MSNBC on Wednesday. “This is not about a dictatorship. This is about the president wanting to honor the military.”
Durbin, however, said there is a better way to spend the money that would still show the country’s appreciation.
“Let’s put money into the quality of life and military families who sacrifice with our men and women in uniform,” Durbin told MSNBC. “And finally, let’s make sure that we’re doing something to stop the waiting lines in veteran’s hospitals. That’s a good way to put money, taxpayers’ money — investing in our troops, investing in our veterans instead of the amusement of the president.”
President George H. W. Bush held a military parade in Washington on June 8, 1991, to mark victory in the Persian Gulf War. The cost of that parade was $12 million, according to a C-SPAN report at the time, which amounts to about $21 million once adjusted for inflation. At the time it was called the biggest victory celebration in Washington since the end of World War II, with a crowd of around 200,000.
Trump has previously discussed his love of displaying military might. He was reportedly very impressed by a parade he witnessed in Paris to celebrate Bastille Day last year, which the president attended as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron. The parade also commemorated the 100th anniversary of the United States’ entry into World War I in 1917.