WASHINGTON — Two House Democrats want to compel the Air Force to detail how much has been spent on trips that President Donald Trump has made to his Florida estate and other properties that he and his family own.
Arizona Reps. Tom O'Halleran and Ruben Gallego, a Marine veteran, planned to introduce an amendment Wednesday to the annual defense policy bill that would require the Air Force to regularly submit presidential travel expense reports to Congress. Each report would include "costs incurred" for travel to a property owned or operated by Trump or his immediate family, according to their amendment.
The two lawmakers have been sharply critical of what they have described as Trump's "frivolous trips," and say presidential travel puts heavy demands on the defense budget.
But their bid for greater oversight of Trump's travel may face resistance from Republicans as the GOP-led House Armed Services Committee crafts the defense policy legislation. The committee's marathon deliberation of the $696 billion bill was likely to stretch past midnight and into early Thursday.
As president, Trump flies on Air Force One. He is accompanied by staff members and military aides. Going to his properties incurs additional security expenses and support equipment, unlike a trip to Camp David, a government-owned retreat in Maryland that is protected year-round as a military installation.
Trump visited Mar-a-Lago, his Palm Beach resort, on seven weekends this winter, embracing the estate as the "winter White House" and using it to host the leaders of Japan and China. He also has flown to New York City, home to Trump Tower. More recently he has favored his golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey, where he has a home.
Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson, who was nominated to the post by Trump, told O'Halleran in a letter this month that Trump's travel costs are "consistent" with former President Barack Obama's.
"The Air Force total cost for movement of the president" between Jan. 20, when Trump was inaugurated, and May 18 was $15.8 million, or just under $4 million per 30 days, according to Wilson's June 12 letter.
But Christina Carr, a spokeswoman for Gallego, said Wilson's response failed to provide a breakdown of costs, which is what the lawmakers want. She said they are looking for "ongoing, regular transparency" of the financial impact to the Air Force's budget that may be caused by the frequency of travel by the president and his family.