President Donald Trump is seeking what he called a “historic” increase in military spending of more than 9 percent, a huge rise even as the United States has wound down major wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and remains the world’s strongest military power.
Trump will seek to boost Pentagon spending in the next fiscal year by $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 on Monday.
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, while 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 includes 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 proposal 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.
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.
Spending in the most recent fiscal year was $584 billion, according to the Congressional Budget Office, so Trump’s planned $54 billion increase would be a rise of 9.2 percent. The next fiscal year starts in October.