House Oversight to Trump: Pay DC what’s owed for ‘Salute to America,’ inauguration expenses

July 12, 2019

AP/Carolyn Kaster

The Democrat-led Committee on Oversight and Reform fired off a letter to President Donald Trump on Friday, requesting that he commit to reimbursing D.C. for expenses incurred during his July Fourth “Salute to America” on the National Mall, as well as the $7.3 million the city says he owes from his 2017 inauguration.

Read the letter the committee sent to President Donald Trump

“We write to express our concern about the financial impact that your hastily-produced expansion of recent July 4 celebrations had on the budgetary resources for key security measures in the District of Columbia,” the letter opens.

“We also write to express our support for a request from D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser that you commit to reimbursing the District’s Emergency Planning and Security Fund (EPSF) for its support of federal activities, including your inauguration in 2017 and your recent July 4 activities.”

Bowser says the current estimate for costs to D.C. are $1.7 million, which has bankrupted the special security fund, particularly when coupled with the $7.3 million spent on Trump’s 2017 inauguration.

The White House disputes D.C.’s $7.3 million figure.

The letter goes on to call the costs of Trump’s Independence Day event an “excessive and unplanned expenditure of federal funds by the Department of Defense and the Department of the Interior.”

WTOP has reached out to the White House for comment.

The Department of the Interior said Thursday that it spent $2.45 million in public funds on Trump’s “Salute to America.”

WTOP has submitted a Freedom of Information Act request with the National Park Service, via the Interior Department, to see a cost breakdown for the event.

“The security of Congress, the White House and federal agencies in the D.C. area requires a partnership between the federal government and the government of the District of Columbia,” members wrote in the letter.

“We ask that you stand by this partnership to ensure the District, its citizens, visitors and federal officials who work here are provided the proper and adequate protection.”

Friday’s letter is signed by Reps. Elijah E. Cummings, D-Md.; Stephen F. Lynch, D-Mass. and Gerry Connolly, D-Va., and D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton.

Cummings is the chairman of the Committee on Oversight and Reform. Lynch is the chairman of the Subcommittee on National Security. Connolly is the chairman of the Subcommittee on Government Operations. Norton is an Oversight member.

In her Tuesday letter to Trump, Bowser said the president’s Independence Day display, as well as protests by others, have left the city’s security fund bankrupt and that it will be running at a deficit of more than $6 million by the end of September.

The Emergency Planning and Security Fund covers public safety at events, anti-terror efforts and support for the Secret Service.

WTOP has reached out to DC Homeland for the data Bowser cited in her letter.

Reached for comment Thursday about Bowser’s letter, the White House said: “We have received the letter and will respond in a timely manner.”

A Defense Department spokesperson confirmed Wednesday that the Pentagon spent $1.2 million on the “Salute to America” celebration, which does not factor in the cost of flyovers, since the flyovers are being listed as training flights to “facilitate flying hours, which are imperative to military readiness.”

Current, known cost estimates for “Salute to America” are $5.35 million.

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