The National Park Service is diverting almost $2.5 million in funds mostly meant to improve parks across the U.S. for President Trump’s Fourth of July celebration on the National Mall, sources told The Washington Post. The agency’s “entrance and recreation fees” will reportedly be used to fund the extravagant “Salute to America” affair—which is slated to include a public display of tanks, fly-overs of jets and Air Force One, and an “extended pyrotechnics display.” The diverted funds are said to be just a fraction of the total amount the government is due to pay for the event, and administration officials have not revealed the full costs. Former Park Service deputy director Denis Galvin told the newspaper the average July 4th celebration on the Mall costs the agency about $2 million total. The White House referred comments to the Department of the Interior, which declined to comment.
This comes after reports that the White House would be distributing “VIP tickets” for the event to “Republican donors and political appointees.” The Republican National Committee and Trump’s re-election campaign confirmed to the Post Tuesday that they had received passes for the celebration that they were planning on distributing.