Amendment Would Bar Trump from Holding Another July 4 'Salute to America'

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President Donald Trump, standing with first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and others, watch as the US Navy Blue Angels flyover during an Independence Day celebration in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Thursday, July 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
President Donald Trump, standing with first lady Melania Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, and acting Defense Secretary Mark Esper, and others, watch as the US Navy Blue Angels flyover during an Independence Day celebration in front of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, Thursday, July 4, 2019. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

The flyovers may have wowed the crowds, but some lawmakers were less impressed.

The House voted Thursday to block President Donald Trump from repeating his military-themed July 4 "Salute to America" on the National Mall next year.

By a vote of 221-207, the Democratic-controlled House passed an amendment to the $700 billion-plus defense policy bill now under consideration that would prohibit funding for military exhibitions at which the president presides.

The amendment faces long odds of surviving as part of the final bill, but Rep. Jamie Raskin, D-Maryland, the amendment’s sponsor, raised the possibility that it would stop what he called another "obscene waste of taxpayer money."

Trump's makeover of the traditional July 4 events in Washington, D.C., featured his speech at the Lincoln Memorial and flyovers by military aircraft, including an Air Force B-2 Spirit stealth bomber and the Navy's "Blue Angels" demonstration team.

Related: Here's How Much the 'Salute to America' Flyovers Cost the Military

Two Abrams tanks and two Bradley Fighting Vehicles from Fort Stewart, Georgia, also were on static display on the Mall grounds.

Trump called his "Salute to America" a major success, saying at a White House event Monday that he likely would "do it again next year and maybe we can say for the foreseeable future."

In a statement, Raskin said, "What we saw at the Lincoln Memorial has nothing to do with official military purposes or the kinds of customary ceremonial duties that will still be allowed under our legislation."

The Office of the Pentagon's Comptroller said Monday that the cost to the military for the July 4 events was $1.2 million.

According to a statement from the comptroller's office, "Funding for the demonstrations came from the military services' training budgets that facilitate flying hours, which are imperative to military readiness. Additional funding was used for the transportation of static displays and equipment."

The cost to the government of Washington, D.C., to support the events was $1.7 million, according to Mayor Muriel Bowser, a Democrat.

In a letter to the White House, Bowser said that the District's Emergency Planning and Security Fund is now $6 million over budget. She asked for reimbursement.

"We ask for your help with ensuring the residents of the District of Columbia are not asked to cover millions of dollars of federal expenses and are able to maintain our high standards of protection for federal events," Bowser said in the letter.

-- Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.

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