Biden Facing Mounting Backlash for Blocking Veterans' Memorial Day Parade
Pentagon blocked use of carpark for 30-year-old Rolling to Remember event
Joe Biden's administration is facing growing backlash after the Pentagon blocked a permit to allow a veterans' group to hold a 30-year-old Memorial Day parade in Washington D.C.
Rep. Brian Mast (R-FL) has been joined by over 30 Republican members of Congress to pressure Democrat Biden in a Tuesday letter.
The group of lawmakers is calling on Biden to reverse the decision to block the motorcycle rally, in honor of U.S. military veterans, from using the Pentagon parking lot.
"I would have hoped that President Biden would have more respect for a Memorial Day tradition, which raises awareness to the 82,000 service members who are still missing in actions and that 22 veterans die by suicide each day," Mast told Fox News.
"That is why today, I along with 33 of my House colleagues are urging President Biden to reverse his administration's decision and grant Rolling to Remember their permit request to use the Pentagon's parking lot."
AMVETS' permit for the Rolling to Remember motorcycle rally was initially approved by Pentagon Special Events on March 11 but the decision was later reversed.
Republican lawmakers, including Reps. Darrell Issa of California, Lee Zeldin of New York, Nancy Mace of South Carolina, Chip Roy of Texas, and Guy Reschenthaler of Pennsylvania, signed Mast's latest letter.
"Moreover, nine state, local and federal agencies have already approved AMVETS' permit for this year ... your Administration is the only remaining barrer to ensuring this Memorial Day tradition goes as planned," Mast and the Republicans wrote in the letter.
"Therefore, we urge you to overturn the decision by the Department of Defense and grant a permit to AMVETS for use of the Pentagon parking lot.
"Thank you for your urgent attention to this matter that is deeply personal to myself and many veterans across this country."
The Pentagon blamed coronavirus risks for the decision.
"If COVID-19 conditions permit, the department would gladly consider supporting a future event request from AMVETS, potentially as soon as this Labor Day weekend," the Pentagon's statement said.
"The department looks forward to supporting future events with AMVETS."
Mast wrote to Biden earlier in May asking him to reverse the Pentagon's decision because "guidance from your own Centers for Disease Control and Prevention acknowledges that the risks of outdoor transmission are very low."
"If you look at the facts that BLM can get a riot permit in Washington, D.C., with COVID going on at the exact same time, how do you not allow veterans into the parking lot, the 70-acre parking lot of the Pentagon in this 20-year plus tradition? Total politics in my opinion," Mast told Fox News' "The Faulkner Focus" last week.
AMVETS' national executive director, Joe Chenelly, told "The Faulkner Focus" last week that the event will still happen.
"We will have a demonstration on May 30 in Washington, D.C. We're not going to be able to stage where this demonstration has staged for decades, but we will have a central staging area in the District," Chennelly said.
"It will be safe, it will be coordinated, and we have a lot of protocols in place to make sure that the spread of COVID doesn’t happen there.
"And we are working with every other agency.
"There are a lot of agencies that are responsible for that region.
"We’re working with all of those.
"The Pentagon is the only one that wouldn’t work with us."
The coronavirus pandemic forced Rolling to Remember to go virtual in 2020.
Mast, a 12-year Army veteran, worked as a bomb disposal expert and lost both his legs while deployed in Afghanistan.