Press Release ● Congress
For Immediate Release: 
June 6, 2019
Contact Info: 
Annaliese Davis,  202-225-4131
WASHINGTON, DC - Today, House Majority Leader Steny H. Hoyer (MD); Congressman Raúl Grijalva (AZ-03), Chair of the House Committee on Natural Resources; and Congresswoman Betty McCollum (MN-04), Chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies sent a letter to President Donald Trump in response to reports that he intends to host a Fourth of July event on the National Mall that the Department of Interior will facilitate.

In their letter, the Members write: "For decades, the Fourth of July on the National Mall has been non-partisan and apolitical. It routinely brings tens of thousands of visitors to our nation’s capital to join in celebration of America’s founding. It is a time for celebration of and reflection on the sacrifices made by our founding generation of men and women to win independence for our nation. It is, therefore, unfortunate that you are considering a conflicting event, which could create the appearance of a televised, partisan campaign rally on the Mall at public expense.”

Click here to view the letter.

“President Trump’s efforts to insert politics into a celebration of our nation’s history is extremely alarming,” said Leader Hoyer. “Forcing taxpayers to foot the bill for what amounts to a political rally is irresponsible and a misuse of funds. I strongly urge the President to reconsider his proposed event.”

“The Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall is about freedom, democracy and the American people as a whole,” said Congressman Grijalva. “It is not about any one person. In addition to drawing the administration’s attention to the cost, resource impacts, and logistical headaches this will cause, we are respectfully asking the president to make himself part of this great celebration rather than attempting to make this great celebration about him.”

“The Fourth of July is a time for all Americans – ‘We, the people,’ – to celebrate the founding of our country,” Congresswoman McCollum said. “Americans will look to our nation’s capital as we honor those who founded our country and as we celebrate the freedoms and liberty we enjoy. The Fourth of July celebration is not about any one person; it is not a time for campaigning – but a time to celebrate our unity as a free nation.”
 
The full letter can be found below and a signed PDF of the letter can be found here.

June 6, 2019
 
The Honorable Donald J. Trump       
President
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500

Dear Mr. President:

We are deeply troubled by recent news[1] that you intend to host your own event on the National Mall to coincide with the annual Fourth of July celebration, and that the Department of the Interior (DOI) will facilitate it.

For decades, the Fourth of July on the National Mall has been non-partisan and apolitical.  It routinely brings tens of thousands of visitors to our nation’s capital to join in celebration of America’s founding. It is a time for celebration of and reflection on the sacrifices made by our founding generation of men and women to win independence for our nation. It is, therefore, unfortunate that you are considering a conflicting event, which could create the appearance of a televised, partisan campaign rally on the Mall at public expense.

The logistics, security and costs to the federal government of hosting the Fourth of July annual celebration on the Mall are substantial and Congress appropriated funds for this occasion only after careful deliberation. To add yet another event on the Mall, with the President of the United States in attendance, will create substantial unplanned costs without Congressional review. Moreover, presidential movement around the Mall and the accompanying security could severely inhibit access to and egress from our nation’s capital for the tens of thousands of visitors hoping to attend.  Finally, we have serious concerns about the impact costs from such an event may have on the operating budget for National Mall and Memorial Parks. If the park unit is forced to absorb additional costs it will have to make reductions in other areas, such as visitor services or facilities operation and maintenance.

We are also troubled that an event like the one being contemplated does not comport with DOI’s focus on addressing its well-publicized maintenance backlog[2]. For example, the National Park Service’s latest report, the National Capital Region alone has over $520 million in “Critical Systems Deferred Maintenance.”[3] Rather than spending millions of taxpayer dollars on what could appear to be a campaign rally, those funds would be far better spent addressing the Department’s maintenance backlog to ensure the “more than 300 million visitors come to national parks knowing they will have an exceptional experience.”

We respectfully call on you to look for ways to complement, not conflict with, the Fourth of the July celebration, such as considering an earlier time or alternative location for your remarks. We look forward to continuing the tradition in place for more than half a century of celebrating our nation’s Independence Day with an event that is, apolitical and open and accessible to all Americans visiting our nation’s capital.
 
Sincerely,      
 
[1] https://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/trump-takes-over-fourth-of-july-celebration-changing-its-location-and-inserting-himself-into-the-program/2019/05/10/40f428c0-733d-11e9-9eb4-0828f5389013_story.html?utm_term=.8d3124735d77
[2] https://www.nps.gov/subjects/infrastructure/maintenance-backlog.htm
[3] https://www.nps.gov/subjects/infrastructure/upload/NPS-Asset-Inventory-Summary-FY18-Region_2018.pdf