President Donald Trump is seeking what he called a “historic” 9 percent increase in military spending, even as the United States has wound down major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and remains the world’s strongest military power, Reuters reports.
Trump will ask Congress to boost Pentagon spending in the next fiscal year by US$54 billion in his first budget proposal and slash the same amount from non-defense spending, including a large reduction in foreign aid, a White House budget official said.
The president does not have the final say on federal spending. His plan for the military is part of a budget proposal to Congress, which although it is controlled by his fellow Republicans, will not necessarily follow his plans. Budget negotiations with lawmakers can take months to play out.
Trump told state governors at the White House that his budget plan included a “historic increase in defense spending to rebuild the depleted military of the United States of America.”
“This is a landmark event and message to the world in these dangerous times, of American strength, security and resolve. We must ensure that our courageous servicemen and women have the tools they need to deter war and when called upon to fight in our name, only do one thing: Win,” he said.
Officials familiar with Trump’s budget blueprint said the defense increase would be financed partly by cuts to the State Department, Environmental Protection Agency and other non-defense programs.
“We’re going to do more with less and make the government lean and accountable to the people,” Trump said.
Trump’s budget will not seek cuts in federal social programs such as Social Security and Medicare, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said on Sunday.
Such a military spending hike would be unusual given that the United States is not engaged in a major war, although its special forces and Air Force are active against Islamic State in Iraq and Syria.
An official familiar with the proposal said Trump’s request for the Pentagon included more money for shipbuilding, military aircraft and establishing “a more robust presence in key international waterways and choke points” such as the Strait of Hormuz and South China Sea.
That could put Washington at odds with Iran and China. The United States already has the world’s most powerful fighting force and it spends far more than any other country on defense.
Defense spending in the most recent fiscal year was US$584 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office, so Trump’s planned US$54 billion increase would be a rise of 9.2 percent. About one-sixth of the federal budget goes to military spending.
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