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President Donald Trump’s “America First Budget” renewed his pledge to boost defense spending by $54 billion and congressional Republicans immediately renewed their complaint that it was “not enough.”
Trump’s fiscal 2018 budget request released Thursday included $639 billion for the Department of Defense, a sum that the White House Office of Management and Budget said was an increase of $52 billion over the level authorized under a stopgap funding measure known as a continuing resolution on the 2017 budget.
The $639 billion total included $574 billion for the base budget, a 10 percent increase from the 2017 CR level, and $65 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations — the so-called “war budget.”
OMB said the budget request would end sequestration “by restoring $52 billion to DoD, as well as $2 billion to other national defense programs outside DOD, for a $54 billion total increase for national defense discretionary budget authority above the sequestration level budget cap.”
The budget office claimed that the $54 billion hike over the 2017 budget of $587 billion would exceed “the entire defense budget of most countries, and would be one of the largest one-year DoD increases in American history.”
“Unlike spending increases for war, which mostly consume resources in combat, the increases in the President’s budget primarily invest in a stronger military,” it said.
The chairman of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees — Sen. John McCain, an Arizona Republican, and Rep. Mac Thornberry, a Texas Republican — quickly said the $54 billion wasn’t enough and would not provide for a quick enough military buildup to deter threats.
McCain said that the $54 billion “will not be sufficient to rebuild the military. Such a budget does not represent a 10 percent increase as previously described by the White House, but amounts to a mere three percent over” the budget plan that had been proposed by former President Barack Obama.
“It is clear to virtually everyone that we have cut our military too much and that it has suffered enormous damage,” Thornberry said. “Unfortunately, the administration’s budget request is not enough to repair that damage and to rebuild the military as the President has discussed.”
In his preface to the budget request, titled “America First — A Blueprint To Make America Great Again,” Trump said, “A budget that puts America first must make the safety of our people is number one priority, because without safety there can be no prosperity.”
“The core of my first budget blueprint is the rebuilding of our nation’s military without adding to our federal deficit,” the president said. “There is a $54 billion increase in defense spending in 2018 that is offset by targeted reductions elsewhere.”
To pay for the military buildup, Trump has proposed major cuts in the Coast Guard, the State Department, the Environmental Protection Administration, the Federal Emergency Management Agency and other departments and agencies.
The president has also proposed the total elimination of funding a number of small independent agencies. The OMB hit list included the African Development Foundation; the Appalachian Regional Commission; the Chemical Safety Board; the Corporation for National and Community Service; the Corporation for Public Broadcasting; the Delta Regional Authority; the Denali Commission and the Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The list also included the Inter-American Foundation; the U.S. Trade and Development Agency; the Legal Services Corporation; the National Endowment for the Arts; the National Endowment for the Humanities; the Neighborhood Reinvestment Corporation; the Northern Border Regional Commission; the Overseas Private Investment Corporation; the United States Institute of Peace; the United States Interagency Council on Homelessness; and the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars.”
— Richard Sisk can be reached at Richard.Sisk@Military.com.
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