Several high-ranking House Democrats penned a letter to President Donald Trump Thursday asking that he rethink his plans for Independence Day this year.
The Democratic members of Congress responsible for the letter say Trump’s plans to address thousands of people from the foot of the Lincoln Memorial during the annual Fourth of July festivities on the National Mall would create a partisan atmosphere. The letter asks that the president reconsider.
“We are deeply troubled by the recent news that you intend to host your own event on the National Mall to coincide with the annual Fourth of July celebration,” House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, Rep. Raul Grijalva of Arizona and Rep. Betty McCollum of Minnesota wrote in the letter later released by Politico.
“For decades, the Fourth of July on the National Mall has been non-partisan and apolitical,” they continued. “It is, therefore, unfortunate that you are considering a conflicting event, which could create the appearance of a televised, partisan campaign rally on the Mall at public expense.”
The president first announced his address in February via Twitter, promising that the 2019 celebration would be “one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C.”
HOLD THE DATE! We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4th. It will be called “A Salute To America” and will be held at the Lincoln Memorial. Major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 24, 2019
“HOLD THE DATE!” Trump wrote.” We will be having one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington, D.C., on July 4th. It will be called ‘A Salute To America’ and will be held at the Lincoln Memorial.”
The president went on to promise a “major fireworks display, entertainment and an address by your favorite President, me!”
The announcement garnered moderate attention at the time, with Department of the Interior Secretary David Bernhardt being called before a Senate Appropriations subpanel in May to discuss the event and address the monetary cost with members of Congress.
“I think the president is excited about the idea, and we’re working hard on it, and I think it could be very, very meaningful. The president loves the idea, as probably all Americans do, of celebrating America on the Fourth of July, or thereabouts,” Bernhardt said.
In his statement, Bernhardt also assured members of Congress that he would receive Trump’s speech prior to the event to ensure that the president did not make political remarks — which would create a situation where taxpayer dollars funded a pseudo-campaign event.
“I will make absolutely sure that every dollar we spend will comply with the law — I will promise you that,” Bernhardt said in response to a question from Democratic Sen. Tom Udall of New Mexico of the Appropriations Committee, according to Politico.
House Democrats, however, do not believe this claim, saying an address from the president will “conflict with” the positive, uplifting and celebratory atmosphere on the National Mall that day — not “complement” it.
They also cite costs associated with a presidential appearance at a celebration of that magnitude as a reason for Trump to reconsider, claiming his plans would derail the National Mall and Memorial Parks operating budget for the rest of the year.
“We respectfully call on you to look for ways to complement, not conflict with, the Fourth of July celebration, such as considering an earlier time or alternative location for your remarks,” the Democrats concluded.
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