Democratic leaders of the House Oversight and Reform Committee on Friday sent a letter to President Trump asking that he reimburse a special D.C. government security fund that was exhausted by the president’s overhauled Fourth of July celebration and demonstrations through the holiday weekend.
The letter — signed by committee Chairman Elijah E. Cummings (D-Md.), Rep. Stephen F. Lynch (D-Mass.), Rep. Gerald E. Connolly (D-Va.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton, the District’s nonvoting representative in Congress — reinforces a similar request made of Trump earlier this week by D.C. Mayor Muriel E. Bowser (D).
District officials say Trump’s “Salute to America” event on Independence Day cost the city about $1.7 million for security and logistics — six times the cost in past years. Combined with additional police expenses for a set of volatile demonstrations that took place July 6, the event drained a fund used to protect the nation’s capital from terrorist threats and provide security at events such as rallies and visits by foreign leaders.
The letter urges the president to repay the fund for the July 4 costs and the $7.3 million that was never reimbursed from Trump’s 2017 inauguration, expressing “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 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,” the letter states. “We ask that you stand by this partnership to ensure the District, its citizens, visitors, and the federal officials who work here are provided the proper and adequate protection.”
Without that reimbursement, D.C. residents will be put in the unprecedented position of funding federal security needs with local tax dollars after Sept. 30, city officials say.
A White House spokesman declined to comment Friday on the new letter. In a statement earlier this week, spokesman Judd Deere said the Trump administration was reviewing Bowser’s letter and would respond to it.
Trump’s rebranded and reorganized Independence Day event entailed millions in new costs for local and federal agencies. The celebration included a flyover by military aircraft, a display of armored vehicles on the Mall and a speech by the president at the Lincoln Memorial. Fireworks were moved to West Potomac Park.
The Pentagon estimated this week that it spent $1.2 million for the event. In a letter Wednesday to House Natural Resources Committee Chairman Raúl M. Grijalva (D-Ariz.), Interior Secretary David Bernhardt confirmed he had diverted $2.8 million from existing accounts to cover expenses associated with “Salute to America.”
Bernhardt tapped $2.5 million in entrance and recreation fees, intended to improve parks across the country, to cover the president’s ceremony, along with $354,000 from a challenge-grant program to pay for fireworks-related expenses.
The District’s Emergency Planning and Security Fund was already headed into the red by the end of the current fiscal year on Sept. 30.
City officials say it was depleted in part because the federal government never reimbursed more than $7 million in cost overruns from the 2017 inauguration, which had a total price tag of $27.3 million. White House officials say the District agreed to drawn down the emergency fund to offset inauguration costs and never subsequently requested reimbursement. City officials dispute that account.
Trump said Monday he plans to hold another July 4 celebration next year, “and maybe, we can say, for the foreseeable future.”
Juliet Eilperin contributed to this report.