WASHINGTON, DC — The $78,333.32 that President Donald Trump donated from his first paycheck as President will help fund restoration projects at Antietam National Battlefield.
Interior Department Secretary Ryan Zinke announced Wednesday that the portion of the salary, which Trump in April announced he was donating to the National Park Service, will support restorations at the National Park Service protected area in Sharpsburg, Maryland, which commemorates the Battle of Antietam.
On the campaign trail, Trump promised that, if elected, he would donate his White House salary to a worthy cause. Under existing federal law, the President is required to accept the $400,000 salary that comes with the office.
The April decision to donate the first three months of Trump’s salary was announced at a White House press conference with Zinke after several weeks of Trump mulling over where the money should go. Wednesday’s announcement makes clear exactly what the money will support within the National Park Service.
While visiting the battlefield, Zinke said: “The President’s donation will allow generations of Americans to learn about our history and heritage on this sacred site.” Zinke also announced an additional $7.2 million in grants for the American Battlefield Land Acquisition Grants program, which works to preserve battlefield lands.
Some groups, however, believe the salary donation is merely symbolic. In an earlier statement, the Sierra Club, an environmental conservation group, said, “America’s parks, and the people and economies they support, need real funding, not a giant fake check.”
Trump has proposed cutting the Interior Department’s 2018 budget by more than $1.5 billion, a reduction of 10.9 percent from the current year. The National Park Service is an agency run by the Interior Department and would be affected by the White House’s proposed budget cuts.
Zinke defended the President’s proposed budget at a hearing on Capitol Hill last month, telling lawmakers, “This is what a balanced budget looks like.”
In a tweet, Zinke said that Trump’s donation and the matching funds would help restore the Newcomer House at the historic site of the battlefield.
The Battle of Antietam was a critical one in the Civil War, and it remains the single bloodiest day in American history.
Nearly 23,000 soldiers were left dead, injured or missing on September 17, 1862. President Abraham Lincoln issued his Emancipation Proclamation, which would eventually free slaves living in confederate states, just days after the battle.