- The Washington Times - Wednesday, July 3, 2019

The top House Democrat with oversight over the National Mall said Wednesday she’ll probe the administration’s decision to shift money to pay for President Trump’s July Fourth celebration.

Rep. Betty McCollum, Minnesota Democrat and chair of the subcommittee that oversees National Park Service spending, called the president’s plans to tap park user fees “absolutely outrageous.”

“These fees are not a slush fund for this administration to use at will. They are meant to improve our national parks, keep them safe and protected for Americans to enjoy, and are clearly not to be used for a political rally,” she said.

She also called it “unbelievable” that she as chair of the key subcommittee wasn’t notified of the decision to use the park fees.

“This administration needs to be reminded that the power of the purse belongs to Congress,” she said.

Mr. Trump has downplayed the cost of the event, saying on Twitter he thinks he’s giving Americans a good deal.

“The cost of our great Salute to America tomorrow will be very little compared to what it is worth. We own the planes, we have the pilots, the airport is right next door (Andrews), all we need is the fuel. We own the tanks and all. Fireworks are donated by two of the greats. Nice!” he wrote.

The president has inserted himself into what’s the usually apolitical festivities, insisting on tanks, planes and a military presence — and a presidential speech at the Lincoln Memorial — that have not been part of past July Fourth celebrations.

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