View Full Version : Trump's Salute to America cost DC, feds more than $5 million

07-11-2019, 12:31 PM

President Donald Trump's Fourth of July celebration last week cost the federal government and Washington, D.C., $5.35 million, according to an Interior Department letter released exclusively to ABC News.

The Interior Department and National Park Service spent $2.45 million on staffing, medical services, barricades, and other logistics for the event, called Salute to America, which does not include the cost of other Fourth of July events like the Capitol Fourth concert.

The city of Washington, D.C., and Department of Defense said the Salute to America event and security cost $1.7 million and $1.2 million respectively, bringing the total cost of the event to $5.35 million.

National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith, who is serving in the director capacity, said the spending was worth it for the exposure it generated for the National Park Service and educational value of an event focused on American history and the contributions of military service members and families.

If you could tell me that for $2.5 million additional dollars the exposure we got from this televised event, its a great bang for the buck, he told ABC News.

But a top Democrat and advocates for preserving national parks said the use of the money is offensive and takes taxpayer money out of a fund that usually pays to improve and protect parks around the country.

The total cost of Salute to America does not include the $750,000 value of donated fireworks or the cost of military flyovers, which the Pentagon said came out of the individual military service's training budgets. It also does not include the cost of the Capitol Fourth concert, which is part of a concert series that is included in the National Park Service budget every year. The concert this year cost about $3.8 million, a small increase from previous years.

The Washington Post first reported that the National Park Service, which handles events on the National Mall, could pull up to $2.5 million from accounts typically used to pay for park improvements around the country to pay for the event.

Smith said the money for Salute to America did not take away from any planned maintenance projects or deferred maintenance because it came from a fund intended for parks that don't collect fees. The park service also used money from the Centennial Challenge Fund, which is appropriated by congress to match donations from non-profits and outside groups to improve parks.

About 117 locations in the National Park Service generate money from entrance and recreation fees. The largest and most popular parks keep 80% of that money to pay for improvements and visitor services in the park, sending the remaining 20% into a fund for other parks to pull from.

At the time the money was taken out for Salute to America, Smith said that fund had about $34 million. He also said the spending was in line with how the park service has used money from fees under other administrations.