Congress

House Oversight Dems call on Trump to pay D.C. for Independence Day, inauguration

Cummings, Norton lead charge seeking to replenish D.C. security fund

Chairman Elijah Cummings, D-Md., holds the gavel during a House Oversight and Reform Committee hearing. (Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call file photo)

Democrats on the House Oversight Committee are calling on President Donald Trump to commit to paying the District of Columbia back for providing public safety support for federal events in the city after Mayor Muriel Bowser said that Trump’s “Salute to America” drained it.

The House Committee on Oversight and Reform Chairman Elijah E. Cummings, of Maryland, and D.C. Democratic Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton wrote to the White House Friday asking Trump to reimburse the district’s Emergency Planning and Security Fund for his inauguration and Fourth of July celebration. Bowser has said the account is expected to not only be empty before the end of the year, but will incur overages of $6 million.

Bowser said in her July 9 letter that the accrued amount for the Independence Day celebrations is around $1.7 million. Her letter, first reported by the Washington Post, also noted that D.C. has yet to be paid back $7.3 million for its role in Trump’s 2017 presidential inauguration.

Trump’s “Salute to America” was criticized for politicizing an event that is usually apolitical and spending excess federal funds on military flyovers and equipment.

Oversight Committee members Gerald E. Connolly of Virginia and Stephen F. Lynch of Massachusetts also signed the letter. D.C.’s director of homeland security and emergency management, Christopher Rodriguez, estimated that D.C.’s costs for Independence day were six times more than they were in prior years, the letter states.

Members of the committee also expressed their concerns about Trump repeating the event next year, as he has indicated he would.

“For these reasons, we respectfully request that you commit to reimbursing the EPSF for the costs of your 2017 inauguration, the July 4 ‘Salute to America,’ and other federal activities for which D.C. has provided security support,” the letter says.

The Democrats also say the committee could investigate any matter at any time.

Norton and Sen. Chris Van Hollen, a Maryland Democrat, have written the Appropriations committees asking to provide the district’s Emergency Planning and Security Fund with the funds necessary to provide sufficient support without having to dip into local funds. The House-approved version of the Financial Services and General Government Appropriations bill would give D.C.’s emergency planning fund $16 million, an increase of $4 million over the previous fiscal year.

Norton and Van Hollen asked for $6 million in supplemental fiscal year 2019 funds.

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