Politics

America’s Largest Veterans Group Rains on Trump’s Parade

Trump appears to put blame for higher estimate on D.C. officials who ‘know a windfall when they see one’

President Donald Trump viewed a traditional Bastille Day military parade in Paris — and apparently liked what he saw. (Thierry Chesnot/Getty Images file photo)

Opponents to President Donald Trump’s plans for a costly military parade in Washington now include the American Legion, the nation’s largest wartime veterans service organization.

“The American Legion appreciates that our President wants to show in a dramatic fashion our nation’s support for our troops,” American Legion National Commander Denise Rohan said in a statement Thursday night. “However, until such time as we can celebrate victory in the War on Terrorism and bring our military home, we think the parade money would be better spent fully funding the Department of Veteran Affairs and giving our troops and their families the best care possible.”

Her statement was issued after reports that the cost for the parade have risen dramatically. In February, White House budget director Mick Mulvaney estimated the cost to be from $10 million and $30 million. That number was reported to be perhaps $92 million on Thursday.

Trump appeared to put the blame for the higher cost estimate on the District of Columbia government officials, saying they “know a windfall when they see one,” and saying that he’ll go to Paris instead in November to celebrate World War I Armistice Day.

He also said he would “attend the big parade already scheduled at Andrews Air Force Base on a different date.”

A Pentagon spokesman said Thursday that the parade originally was being planned for Nov. 10, to honor veterans and to commemorate the centennial of World War I. But now, it may be delayed until 2019.

The president developed parade envy after watching a military parade in Paris, when he was a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron for Bastille Day festivities in 2017.

Trump brought up the idea of a military parade in Washington during a meeting with Macron a few months later.

“We’re going to have to try and top it,” he said. “It was really a beautiful thing to see.”

Rep. Brad Schneider of Illinois and Sen. Ben Cardin of Maryland introduced measures in February seeking to thwart Trump’s parade plans.

“We have the best armed forces in the world. We don't need to flex our muscle to showcase our military hardware,” Cardin tweeted at the time. “Our brave military men & women flex their might around the world every day on behalf of our nation.”

Cardin added: “There are much more effective ways of honoring them than a parade.”

Defense Department officials reportedly had denied a request from Trump’s transition team to include heavy military vehicles in his inaugural parade. One concern was that the vehicles would cause structural damage to Washington’s streets.

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