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Lawmakers urge Trump to cancel 'Salute to America' on July 4

By
Don Jacobson
A U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bomber and two F-22 fighter jets fly over the Lincoln Memorial during the Fourth of July Salute to America in Washington, D.C., on July 4, 2019. File Photo by Al Drago/UPI
A U.S. Air Force B-2 stealth bomber and two F-22 fighter jets fly over the Lincoln Memorial during the Fourth of July "Salute to America" in Washington, D.C., on July 4, 2019. File Photo by Al Drago/UPI | License Photo

May 27 (UPI) -- A group of U.S. lawmakers have urged the Trump administration to drop plans for another "Salute to America" celebration in Washington, D.C., on the Fourth of July this year, saying it would be impossible to stage safely.

In a letter to Defense Secretary Mark Esper and Interior Secretary David Bernhardt, 10 Democratic lawmakers raised "serious concern" about President Donald Trump's plans to put on the event again, due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis.

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The inaugural event drew thousands to the National Mall last year and featured a speech by Trump at the Lincoln Memorial. Fireworks and a flyover by the U.S. Navy's "Blue Angels" were also part of the celebration.

The president has said the event will be held this year, perhaps with social restrictions due to the coronavirus pandemic.

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"Given the current COVID-19 crisis, we believe such an event would needlessly risk the health and safety of thousands of Americans," the lawmakers wrote in the letter. "Further, this event would come at the cost of millions of taxpayer dollars while we are facing an unprecedented economic downturn."

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Even with precautions, they added, such an event "would be impossible to put on safely."

"It 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 letter states.

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"Enforcing safe social distancing and basic event protocol would put park, event security, and law enforcement officers at risk of contracting the virus, in addition to increasing use of personal protective equipment that still face supply limitations."

The letter was authored by Rep. Don Beyer of Virginia and signed by House Democratic leader Rep. Steny Hoyer; Reps. Jennifer Wexton and Gerald Connolly of Virginia; David Trone, Anthony Brown and Jamie Raskin of Maryland; as well as Sens. Chris Van Hollen and Ben Cardin and Washington, D.C. congressional delegate Eleanor Norton.

A White House spokesman said there are still plans for the Independence Day celebration, but said it will have a "different look" to ensure "health and safety" for those attending.

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