February 9, 2018
Congressional Democrats are largely opposed to President Donald Trump’s request to hold a military-style parade, while Republicans appeared to have mixed feelings on the subject, CNN reported on February 7, following an informal poll of the federal legislators.
The Washington Post first reported that Trump told top Pentagon brass last month he wanted a military parade similar to the one he had viewed as a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron on Bastille Day last July 14. At that time, he called the procession “one of the greatest parades” he had ever seen.
“I think a parade showcasing our military and the sacrifices they make to our country would be appropriate as a way to say thank you,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina told CNN. “But I am not interested in a military hardware display that would be cheesy and project weakness.”
Republican Senator Roger Wicker of Mississippi was not on-board with the idea at all: “It hadn’t been a priority at all,” he told CNN. “If it would save money not to do it, we probably ought to look at that.”
Meanwhile, Democrats told the news network that they were skeptical about the proposal, arguing it was a waste of money and a vanity exercise for Trump.
“I was stunned by it, to be quite honest. I mean, we have a Napoleon in the making here,” Representative Jackie Speier of California told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on February 6.
The Senate Democratic Whip, Dick Durbin of Illinois, said he wouldn’t attend such a parade. “I believe that spending millions, maybe more, on the President’s amusement is a colossal waste of funds that should be spent to make sure our troops are ready for battle and come home safely, their families receive all the support they deserve and that the waiting lines at V.A. facilities be reduced,” Durbin told CNN. “That’s how we can honor our veterans. Not with a parade for the president.”
Predictably enough, Senator Bernie Sanders, the Independent from Vermont, said that “what [Trump] should have learned from France is about their healthcare system—not about their military parades.”
“We have the mightiest military on the planet and we don’t need a parade to prove that,” tweeted Democratic Senator Brian Schatz of Hawaii.
The Pentagon is exploring the idea of holding the parade in November, in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on November 11, 1918, a spokesperson said. There also has been some consideration of staging a parade on July 4.
The Post said shipping tanks and military hardware into Washington could cost millions of dollars and that military officials said they were unsure how to pay for it.
And the Washingtonian magazine reported that, “if history is any guide, the costs could quickly pile up”—noting, “The last big military parade, in June 1991, featured 8,000 troops and lineups of Bradley Fighting Vehicles and 72-ton M1 Abrams tanks crawling along 200,000 spectators on Constitution Avenue. While organizers originally estimated the day would cost $8 million, with $5 million coming from private donors, the final tab climbed to $12 million, with taxpayers footing the balance.”
Like the wall on the southern border, this may be a project that the president must find funding for, himself.
Research contact: @KilloughCNN