Congressional Democrats on Wednesday largely opposed President Donald Trump’s request to hold a military-style parade, while Republicans appeared mixed on the idea.
“I think a parade showcasing our military and the sacrifices they make to our country would be appropriate as a way to say thank you,” said Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, who serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee and retired from the Air Force in 2015. “But I am not interested in a military hardware display that would be cheesy and project weakness.”
The Washington Post first reported that Trump was inspired by France’s Bastille Day celebration when he was a guest of French President Emmanuel Macron last year to watch their military parade.
The Pentagon is exploring the idea of holding the parade in November in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I on November 11, 1918, the official said.
The Post said shipping tanks and military hardware into Washington could cost millions of dollars, and that military officials said they were unsure how to pay for it.
Republican Sen. Susan Collins of Maine expressed some concerns about the cost but was open to the idea of marking the anniversary. She acknowledged it’s “not typical of our tradition” but said she could “see some justification” if “it’s to celebrate what’s supposed to be the war to end all wars.”
Republican Sen. Thom Tillis of North Carolina, who sits on the Senate Armed Services and Veterans’ Affairs committees, said such a parade would send a “great statement” of thanks to the military and could inspire those who want to join.
Tillis said it should be done “in the most cost effective way,” but argued the expense could also be justified because members of the military would be training as they march in the parade.
“When they’re driving those tanks, when they’re driving those vehicles, when they’re marching, they’re also training,” he told CNN. “So there’s a component to it that you need to look at what the real net incremental costs are.”
Republican Sen. Roger Wicker of Mississippi, also a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, was not as enthusiastic about Trump’s idea for a parade.
“It hadn’t been a priority at all,” he told CNN. “If it would save money not to do it, we probably ought to look at that.”
Republican Sens. Tom Cotton of Arkansas and Joni Ernst of Iowa, both veterans themselves, didn’t have comments about the idea.
Democrats, meanwhile, were sharply critical of the parade proposal, arguing it was a waste of money and a vanity exercise for Trump.
“I was stunned by it, to be quite honest. I mean, we have a Napoleon in the making here,” Rep. Jackie Speier of California told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on Tuesday.
Sen. Bernie Sanders, an independent from Vermont who caucuses with Democrats, said that “what (Trump) should have learned from France is about their health care system, not about their military parades.”
“We have the mightiest military on the planet and we don’t need a parade to prove that,” tweeted Democratic Sen. Brian Schatz of Hawaii.
The Senate Democratic whip, Dick Durbin of Illinois, said he wouldn’t attend such a parade.
“I believe that spending millions, maybe more, on the President’s amusement is a colossal waste of funds that should be spent to make sure our troops are ready for battle and come home safely, their families receive all the support they deserve and that the waiting lines at VA facilities be reduced,” Durbin told CNN. “That’s how we can honor our veterans. Not with a parade for the President.”
Sen. Tammy Duckworth, an Illinois Democrat and Army veteran who lost her legs while serving in Iraq, made headlines earlier this week for calling Trump “Cadet Bone Spurs.”
“We’re too great a nation to be participating in these types of things,” Duckworth said when asked about Trump’s parade. “What a waste of military resources and taxpayer dollars.”
CNN’s Barbara Starr and Kate Sullivan contributed to this report.