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Taxpayers may be on the hook for covering the cost of increased protests in DC

FILE - Anti-President Donald Trump protesters gather in Washington, Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (Sinclair Broadcast Group/Lindsey Leake)

WASHINGTON (Sinclair Broadcast Group) - As lawmakers plan to spend the coming days getting into the nitty gritty of the federal budget, one item is already proving to cost more than was planned for - the cost of hosting and securing protests in the nation’s capital. Some are concerned it could leave taxpayers on the hook to pay for the difference.

From inauguration day protests to the massive Women’s March the day after, the cost of doing business in Washington, D.C. is going up, at least in regards to the First Amendment with President Donald Trump in the White House.

On inauguration day, D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser gave this advice to residents:

“Follow the law, so they can exercise their First Amendment rights peacefully. That means they’re not destroying property, they’re not tearing up trash cans, that means they’re not setting fires.”

The biggest cost is paying for security, especially overtime for police. Not even halfway through 2017, the equation doesn’t seem to be adding up.

For the inauguration itself, Congress allocated less than $19.9 million but the city spent more than $30 million. For other demonstrations, about $15 million was set aside by Congress, but $3.8 million had already been spent by Jan. 1, according to The Associated Press.

“While we want everyone to have their First Amendment rights respected, we also want people to have their wallets respected,” said Michi Iljazi, vice president of the Taxpayers Protection Alliance, a taxpayer watchdog group in Washington. In an interview, he said he’s concerned it’s taxpayers who will be on the hook and thinks better planning could save money.

“Can we double up these efforts of these protests? Can we have a protest that may be focusing on the climate occur on the same weekend as science?” he asked.

For now, many are looking to Congress to put aside more money in the budget.

And about that budget?

Demonstrators gathered outside the White House this week to protest that as well.

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