D.C.-area Democrats have called on Defense Secretary Mike Esper and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt to cancel plans for a second Fourth of July celebration in the nation's capital, citing the ongoing novel coronavirus outbreak and calling it a "vanity project" for President Donald Trump.
This is the second year the Trump administration plans to hold a military parade, which last year also was opposed by Democrats, including Rep. Steny Hoyer, D-Md., who called the "Salute to America" event "extremely alarming," "irresponsible," and "a political rally."
Hoyer was one of eight House Democrats who joined both of Maryland's senators in writing to Esper and Bernhardt to oppose this year's Independence Day event.
They decried the parade and associated activities "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 10 Democrats from Maryland, Virginia, and the District of Columbia, noted $5.4 million was spent on last year's celebration, which attracted "thousands of out-of-town visitors."
They said a similar event would exceed "public gathering best practices and significantly increase the threat of community spread of COVID-19."
"The administration, including your agencies, should be focusing on helping American families, not on a vanity project for the president," the letter said.
Trump announced to reporters last month he intended to stage the Independence Day party again this year, with the hope of making it annual event.
This year's event will appear different than 2019's version because of safety guidelines that will be required, White House spokesman Judd Deere said in a statement quoted by CBS News.
"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, and both deserve celebration on America's birthday this year," he said.
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