May 27, 2020
DC-area members of Congress urge cancellation of July 4 military parade
Credit: WTOP News, Mitchell Miller
Congressional leaders who represent the national capital region are urging the Trump administration to cancel plans for a second military parade in D.C. on the Fourth of July, citing health concerns related to the pandemic.
The Democratic lawmakers from Maryland, Virginia and D.C. have written a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, outlining their opposition to President Donald Trump’s plans for the event.
“Given the current COVID-19 crisis, we believe such an event would needlessly risk the health and safety of thousands of Americans,” the lawmakers said. “Further, this event would come at the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars while we are facing an unprecedented economic downturn due to the pandemic.”
The lawmakers noted that the D.C. area is “experiencing some of the worst impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Though they said they remain optimistic health precautions and increased testing will decrease cases and deaths, they also pointed out many businesses will remain closed this summer and public gatherings will be restricted.
“Given the number of individuals that would try to attend such an event, logistically such an event would be impossible to put on safely,” the lawmakers said.
The letter was led by Rep. Don Beyer, D-Va., and signed by Maryland Sens. Ben Cardin and Chris Van Hollen; House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer, D-Md.; D.C. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton; as well as Virginia Reps. Gerry Connolly and Jennifer Wexton; and Maryland Reps. Jamie Raskin, Anthony Brown and David Trone.
Trump remains committed to reopening the country and said earlier this month that the “Salute to America” on July 4 could be held safely, with social distancing.
But, over the Memorial Day weekend, states across the country experienced cases where people gathered for celebrations and clearly violated guidance to remain 6 feet apart.
In their letter, the lawmakers cited various logistical issues related to a July 4 event on the National Mall, noting that many Metro stations are closed.
Last year’s event is estimated to have cost more than $5 million, nearly half of which came from the Department of Interior, which used money that normally goes to the National Park Service for improvements at parks.