EXCLUSIVE – Rep. Darrell Issa, R-Calif., introduced a bill on Tuesday to ensure a Memorial Day veterans event with a long history is able continue every year, after the Department of Defense blocked the Rolling to Remember motorcycle rally from staging in the Pentagon parking lot this month.
“There’s mom, there’s apple pie, there’s baseball, there’s hot dogs and there’s supporting our men and women in uniform,” Issa told Fox News in an interview. “Those are the most sacred bipartisan American things there are.”
Issa joined Rep. Brian Mast, R-Fla., and other House Republicans to request President Biden override the Pentagon’s decision on Rolling to Remember, formally known as “Rolling Thunder,” in a letter sent Tuesday morning. Pentagon Special Events confirmed veterans group AMVETS’ permit for the Rolling to Remember motorcycle rally on March 11 but later reversed its decision. The Pentagon said it looks forward to working with AMVETS in the future “if COVID-19 conditions permit.”
“If I thought there was any credence or fairness to their refusal, I would have asked differently,” Issa told Fox News. “It’s very clear that someone with a unique political bent said no, and we’re going to get to the bottom of who that is.”
Issa’s bill, the “Let Veterans Honor the Fallen Act,” would codify the Rolling to Remember Memorial Day motorcycle rally’s ability to stage each year in the Pentagon parking lot as long as its host organization submits a notification of use to the Secretary of Defense by Jan. 31 of the year the event will take place.
“It’s narrow but it’s efficient. It simply authorizes what has been a 30-year tradition,” Issa said. “This is the equivalent of the president saying he wouldn’t throw out a baseball at a home opener.”
Issa cast doubt on the Pentagon’s reasoning for rescinding the permit and pointed to reports that the risk of outdoor coronavirus transmission has been greatly exaggerated.
“This is a boldfaced lie,” he said. “Ten thousand people are going to descend … in Washington, D.C. That they do so safely and they do so on vehicles that separate the family units by design, and they’re going to say that’s not acceptable. Unfortunately, this is an administration that if they called it a peaceful protest, even if they destroyed the city, would be allowed to do it.”
Issa said the bill may not garner Democratic support and make it to Biden’s desk before Memorial Day, but he hopes the administration will nevertheless reverse course.
“We’ve had no response [from the administration], and we’re presuming we’re entitled to one,” he said. “Additionally, we will be sending requests for the document production … This smacks of some anti-veteran person deep inside the Department of Defense, and if you’re anti-military in the Department of Defense, we’d like to know who you are.”
The coronavirus pandemic forced Rolling to Remember to go virtual in 2020.
Issa served in the U.S. Army and achieved the rank of Captain.