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Washington officials warn Trump’s 4th of July ‘vanity project’ would ‘needlessly risk’ American lives

'The administration, including your agencies, should be focusing on helping American families, not on a vanity project for the president'

Chris Riotta
New York
Wednesday 27 May 2020 16:47 BST
Crowds turn out for Trump's Independence Day in Washington DC

President Donald Trump’s plan to hold celebrations on the Fourth of July at the National Mall would have “detrimental impacts” and “needlessly risk” American lives amid the coronavirus pandemic, lawmakers in Washington, DC have warned.

In a letter to Defence Secretary Mark Esper and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, 10 Democrats representing Maryland, Virginia and the District wrote: “Given the current COVID-19 crisis, we believe that such an event would needlessly risk the health and safety of thousands of Americans.”

The letter continued: “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."

Mr Trump has insisted on holding the spectacle he launched at the mall last year a second time despite the ongoing pandemic, telling reporters last month: “We're going to be doing it. Last year was a tremendous success and I would imagine we'll do it, hopefully I can use the term 'forever.'"

The White House also confirmed Mr Trump’s intention to host the event, while adding in a statement that different measures would be taken from the year prior in light of current circumstances.

“The American people have shown tremendous courage and spirit in the fight against this global pandemic just as our forefathers did in the fight to secure our independence,” White House spokesperson Judd Deere said at the time. “Both deserve celebration on America’s birthday.”

Thousands of Americans from across the country flocked to the D.C.-area last year for the president’s military parade, which cost an estimated $5.4m.

With concerns of a possible second wave of infections mounting and analysts indicating the US economy was likely falling into a recession, the Washington-area lawmakers said a celebration like the one put on last year was too risky and costly this coming summer.

“Should the president continue with his plan to hold another 'Salute to America' event, it would have detrimental impacts on not only those that live in the National Capital Region, but all those who travel in from other areas of the country to attend,” the letter read.

It continued: “The Administration, including your agencies, should be focusing on helping American families, not on a vanity project for the president.”

Nearly 100,000 Americans have died as a result of the coronavirus pandemic, according to a tally published by Johns Hopkins University.

The White House has declined to support the new Heroes Act as Mr Trump’s allies on Capitol Hill described the latest Democratic proposals to aid businesses and workers impacted by the crisis as a “liberal wish list” and “political messaging bill”.

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