How Much Will Trump's July 4 Parade Cost? White House Refuses to Say but Taxpayers Likely to Pay Millions

President Donald Trump has vowed that this year's Independence Day celebration will be "one of the biggest gatherings in the history of Washington D.C." but the festivities are likely to cost taxpayers millions.

The "Salute to America" celebration will feature military tanks lined up on the National Mall, war plane flyovers and a televised national address by the president. There will also be two firework displays, one from behind the Lincoln Memorial and the other in Potomac Park.

Big 4th of July in D.C. “Salute to America.” The Pentagon & our great Military Leaders are thrilled to be doing this & showing to the American people, among other things, the strongest and most advanced Military anywhere in the World. Incredible Flyovers & biggest ever Fireworks!

— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) July 2, 2019

The White House has not said exactly how much the Fourth of July event will cost, but it's been reported that millions have already been diverted from other federal agencies in order to cover the expenses.

According to The Washington Post, $2.5 million was diverted from the National Park Service to cover the costs associated to Trump's parade. Those funds, which were raised from entrance and recreation fees, were originally intended to help revamp parks across the country. Former Park Service deputy director Denis Galvin told the Post that the entire celebration usually costs the department around $2 million.

Trump tweeted on Wednesday morning that the parade will cost "very little compared to what it is worth." He also noted that the military already owns all of the equipment and the personnel needed to operate them, adding "all we need is the fuel."

But a finance expert told NPR that some of the planes and military weapons being used throughout the event cost thousands of dollars per hour to operate. The Boeing 747 plane used for Air Force One could be $205,000 an hour. Flying a F-35 jet can be $20,000 or more, according to Pentagon figures.

And just getting the military tanks from Fort Stewart in Georgia to Washington D.C. was costly. A White House aide told USA Today that the preliminary estimate for the transport was $870,000.

One of the firework displays, which will be put on by Phantom Fireworks and Fireworks by Grucci, would normally cost $750,000 for a show lasting 15 to 20 minutes. But the companies have donated the supplies and staff for the Fourth of July.

The second firework display, put on by Garden State Fireworks, will cost more than $250,000 according to the show choreographer Christopher Santore. The Park Service has a multi-year contract with the firework company and reportedly tried to break the agreement when they received the donation from Phantom Fireworks and Fireworks by Grucci.

prep for July 4th celebrations washington dc
Event workers arrive at the Lincoln Memorial ahead of Thursday's July Fourth Salute to America celebration, on July 3, 2019 in Washington, D.C. President Trump will deliver a speech at the memorial with military hardware on display including tanks, and flyovers by military aircraft. Mark Wilson/Getty

Congressional Democrats have protested against Trump's parade, deeming it an overly extravagant affair with a high price tag.

Representative Jackie Speier, who serves on the House Armed Services Committee, tweeted on Monday that Trump is "desperate to create photo ops made for TV. Autocrats show off their military weapons to compensate for their inferiority. Above all else, this is a waste of $$$."

Three Democratic lawmakers penned a letter to the Interior Department demanding answers to their questions about the costs associated with the Independence Day festivities. The Interior Department, along with the Defense Department, is primarily responsible for funding the celebration.

"The American people deserve to know how much of their money the president is spending to turn their July 4th celebration into a de facto campaign rally. All reports indicate that the president is planning to turn a national day of unity into a day of vanity – trying to use the military for political purposes and doling out perks to his political backers – at the taxpayers' expense. We need answers," the letter read.

Local officials have urged the Trump administration to reimburse taxpayers for the president's parade. They've also complained that the president has turned the national holiday into a political event.

Eleanor Holmes Norton, a delegate to the House of Representatives representing the District of Columbia, reminded reporters earlier this week that the Trump administration still hasn't paid back its $7 million debt from the president's inauguration in 2017. She added that the administration will also have to pay for any damage done by Thursday's events.

Representative Don Beyer, a Democrat from Virginia, issued a statement also expressing concern about the damage that could be done to local infrastructure from the military tanks.

"Since President Trump is turning the region's beloved annual tradition into a campaign event focused on himself, he should personally reimburse U.S. taxpayers and local governments for any damage to local infrastructure," Beyer said.

If President Trump does use Thursday's parade for political purposes, the Treasury Department could request his 2020 campaign reimburse the federal government for the cost of the event. The White House has asserted that Trump's address "is not going to be political. It will be a celebration and salute to America."

Editor's pick

Newsweek cover
  • Newsweek magazine delivered to your door
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts
Newsweek cover
  • Unlimited access to
  • Ad free experience
  • iOS and Android app access
  • All newsletters + podcasts