The federal government and Washington D.C. spent over $5 million on the President’s “Salute to America” event for the Fourth of July celebration, shows a new report by ABC News.
The Interior Department and National Park Service spent $2.45 million on staffing, medical services, barricades, and other logistics for the event. Another $1.7 million and $1.2 million were spent on the “Salute to America” event and security, respectively, by the city of Washington D.C. and the Defense Department.
National Park Service Deputy Director Dan Smith justified the cost, saying that it generated great exposure for the agency, while critics, including advocates for preserving national parks, called the use of the money offensive considering it is normally spent on maintaining and protecting parks around the country.
“If you could tell me that for $2.5 million additional dollars the exposure we got from this televised event, it’s a great bang for the buck,” Smith said.
The Pentagon additionally reallocated money from the individual military service’s training budget for the military flyovers and the National Park Service spent another $3.8 million for the Capitol Fourth concert, little over its cost from previous years.
Following reports that the National Park Service would reallocate for the event about $2.5 million from accounts usually used to pay for park improvements around the country, Smith claimed the funds transferred for “Salute to America” did not take away from any planned maintenance projects or deferred maintenance.
He likewise maintained the spending was in line with how the park service has used money from fees under other administrations, the outlet adds.
But Democrats and advocacy groups condemned the additional costs for the event, arguing that the National Park Service is already underfunded.
“Mayor Bowser has said the president’s event bankrupted a fund meant to protect the nation’s capital from terrorist attacks, not to mention that he still hasn’t paid off the bills from his inauguration festivities. In that context, the diversion of fee revenue from visitors to our national parks to pay for the president’s new extra event on the 4th was especially wrong,” said Democratic Representative Raul Grijalva, chairman of the House committee that oversees the Interior Department.