“We haven’t made a final decision,” White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders said. “Nothing has been decided or locked in stone.”
On Tuesday, the Pentagon confirmed it had been asked to organize a parade to show off the nation’s military strength, with President Trump apparently inspired by France’s traditional Bastille Day military parade last July.
“It was two hours on the button and it was military might and, I think, a tremendous thing for France and for the spirit of France,” Trump said at the time. “To a large extent, because of what I witnessed, we may do something like that on July 4 in Washington down Pennsylvania Avenue.”
Michel Euler / AP
But when asked about it during Wednesday’s press briefing, White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders appeared to throw cold water on the possibility after politicians from both sides of the aisle raised concerns about the cost.
“We haven't made a final decision,” Sanders told reporters. “Nothing has been decided or locked in stone.”
The last military parade in Washington, the National Victory Celebration, took place in 1991 after the Gulf War, costing an estimated $12 million. Of that, $7 million in federal funds were reportedly used to help defray the cost. The rest came from private donations.
“The president is exploring different ways that he can highlight and show the pride we have in the military, people that have served and sacrificed to allow us all the freedoms we have,” Sanders said.
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Current plans for another parade are “literally in a brainstorming session,” Sanders added.
Sanders also said that Trump did not give a directive insisting on a parade. Instead, she said, he asked the Department of Defense “to look at different ways to explore and see what could happen.”
Jonathan Ernst / Reuters
Secretary of Defense James Mattis also dodged questions about how much a possible military parade would cost. “We’ve been putting together some options. We’ll send them up to the White House for a decision,” he told reporters.
“I think we're all aware in this country of the president's affection and respect for the military,” he added.
Another reporter asked Mattis about funding for a parade at a time when he’s calling for Congress to fully fund the military. “Why divert time, energy, financial resources to the planning of a parade, as the president has asked?” the reporter asked.
Mattis said his own focus was on getting the military fully funded.
“As far as the parade goes, again, the president's respect, his fondness for the military, I think, is reflected in him asking for these options,” he added.