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House Dems Angry Over Coast Guard River Security Plan to Protect President Trump

Coast Guard Boat on the Potomac River with the Washington Monument in the Background
Wikimedia Commons

A couple of House Democrats are crying foul over a new Coast Guard ordinance that would restrict public access to a large portion of the Potomac while President Trump golfs.

The golf course in question is owned by President Trump. The Coast Guard ordinance would affect commercial boat and recreational traffic while the president, or other high-ranking officials, play the course.

According to The Hill:

The Coast Guard’s proposed rule would close roughly two miles of the Potomac—”from shoreline to shoreline”—where it abuts the Trump National Golf Club, the president’s 36-hole resort that lies about 30 miles upstream from Washington. The purpose, the rule states, is “to protect high-ranking United States officials and the public, mitigate potential terrorist acts, and enhance public and U.S. navigable waterway safety and security.”

However, a pair of House Democrats, Reps. Peter DeFazio (D-Ore.) and John Garamendi (D-Calif.) claim the new ordinance goes too far in terms of interfering with boating on the river.

“That’s a very heavily utilized part of the Potomac,” DeFazio explained on Thursday. “Closing the entire river randomly—because the president’s schedule isn’t announced in advance—would be incredibly disruptive. It’ll hurt commercial outfitters; it’s going to ruin people’s vacations. … And I think it’s unnecessary.

“The most polite alternative would be for Trump to recognize that he’s screwing up other people’s vacations and lives.”

In a letter written Wednesday to Coast Guard Commandant Admiral Paul F. Zukunft, DeFazio and Garamendi urged the Coast Guard to produce a new ordinance. Which would still protect the president and other high-ranking officials, while still allowing public access to the water.

The letter said, “Time and again President Trump, with the aid of the Secret Service, has disregarded the needs of the general public for his own personal benefit and convenience. We implore you not to allow the President’s frequent leisure activities to take away access to the river regularly enjoyed by wounded veterans, and other kayakers, boaters, jet skiers, and anglers.”

Coast Guard Chief Spokesman David French downplayed those concerns in a phone interview with the Hill on Friday. “It’s nothing new, and I don’t think people should be alarmed. They’re not going to be kicked off the river. It’s just during times of enforcement, they’ll have to stay out of the boundary areas.”

DeFazio, the senior Democrat on the House Transportation Committee, and Garamendi, the ranking member of the Committee’s Maritime subpanel, plan to host Admiral Zukunft on Tuesday for a hearing on the Coast Guard’s future and infrastructure needs. However, referencing the letter he and Garamendi sent the admiral protesting the Potomac Ordinance, DeFazio made it clear that the Coast Guard’s security plan for President Trump’s golf course will also be discussed.

“He will have had the letter for a week. He should be able to give us something in an open session.”

Follow Dylan Gwinn on Twitter: @themightygwinn

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