- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 19, 2019


Interior Secretary David Bernhardt announced Wednesday that President Trump will honor the five branches of the military when he speaks at the Lincoln Memorial on Independence Day.

“There is no more appropriate place to celebrate the anniversary of American independence than among the Nation’s monuments on the National Mall and the memorials to the service men and women who have defended the United States for the past 243 years,” Mr. Bernhardt said in a news release. “For the first time in many years, the World War II Memorial and areas around the Reflecting Pool will be open for the public to enjoy a stunning fireworks display and an address by our Commander-in-Chief.”

Mr. Trump is slated to give remarks at 6:30 p.m. at the memorial and fireworks will be set off at West Potomac Park later that evening, according to Mr. Bernhardt’s release.

The president’s “Salute to America” event is scheduled to include military demonstrations and flyovers, though no details about those proceedings were provided.

This event will require the suspension of all operations at Reagan National Airport (DCA) for up to 1 hour and 15 minutes. Aeromedical and emergency flights will be authorized as necessary,” the Federal Aviation Administration said Wednesday.

“Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport and Dulles International Airport will not be affected,” the FAA said in an email. “We have suspended DCA operations in the past for a similar amount of time for other events such as the Arsenal of Democracy flyover.

Mr. Trump has called for a huge patriotic display since attending a Bastille Day military parade in Paris in 2017.

Local and federal Democratic lawmakers had expressed concern that Mr. Trump might mar Independence Day celebrations with a partisan or personal speech, pointing out that the White House has provided little information about its plans for the day, now just two weeks away.

They also had expressed concern that the president’s event would compete with the 39th annual “A Capitol Fourth” celebration. Conducted on the West Lawn of the Capitol and broadcast live by PBS, the celebration will be hosted by actor John Stamos and feature performances by Carole King, Colbie Caillat, Vanessa Carlton and the National Symphony Orchestra, among others.

D.C. Delegate Eleanor Holmes Norton and Sen. Chris Van Hollen of Maryland recently sent a letter to Congress’ appropriations committee seeking more funds to cover the costs of events, like Mr. Trump’s speech, that will occur in Washington.

“If the District does not receive supplemental appropriations for the Emergency Planning and Security Fund (EPSF), it would be put in the untenable position of not providing support for certain federal events or having to divert its local funds from local public safety activities to support activities that are to be covered by the EPSF,” Mr. Van Hollen and Mrs. Norton said in the letter.

In the fiscal 2019 budget, Congress appropriated $12 million for the fund, which had an excess of $2 million from the previous year. But Mr. Van Hollen and Mrs. Norton said the fund is expected to run out by July at the current rate of spending.

“It is important to note that the spend rate does not factor in the substantial unanticipated costs for President Trump’s July 4th speech and activities at the Lincoln Memorial,” they said in their letter.

According to the D.C. government, the White House still owes the District $7.3 million for costs incurred for security for the inauguration in 2017.

Sens. Tom Udall of New Mexico, Patrick Leahy of Vermont, and Mr. Van Hollen asked Mr. Bernhardt in a letter for details about the president’s event, its cost and how it will be managed.

“We are deeply troubled that the president’s involvement at the event will turn the longstanding, non-partisan celebration into a de facto campaign rally conducted at taxpayer expense that will serve to further divide rather than unify the nation,” the senators wrote.

This article is based in part on wire service reports.

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