Repub­li­cans be­gin push for more de­fense spend­ing

Re­port: Trump plan falls short of prom­ises

The Washington Times Daily - - WORLD - BY CARLO MUNOZ

Con­gres­sional Repub­li­cans are look­ing to push the en­ve­lope on de­fense spend­ing, even as a key con­ser­va­tive think tank claimed Mon­day that Pres­i­dent Trump’s first de­fense bud­get falls far short of the prom­ises he made on the cam­paign trail in 2016.

House and Se­nate law­mak­ers hope to add bil­lions of dol­lars to the Pen­tagon bud­get re­quest sub­mit­ted by the White House last month. Law­mak­ers say the ad­di­tional funds are needed to re­pair the dam­age done by mil­i­tary cuts dur­ing the Obama ad­min­is­tra­tion.

Ear­lier this year, Mr. Trump touted his first Pen­tagon bud­get re­quest as the ve­hi­cle that would re­build the U.S. armed forces back from the strength lev­els not seen since the post-Viet­nam era.

But the $603 bil­lion base bud­get for the Pen­tagon, plus the $65 bil­lion for on­go­ing com­bat op­er­a­tions, called for by Mr. Trump’s na­tional se­cu­rity team, merely “re­pairs” the dam­age done via past bud­get cuts and falls short of what is needed to be­gin mod­ern­iz­ing Amer­i­can forces, an­a­lysts at the con­ser­va­tive Wash­ing­ton-based Amer­i­can En­ter­prise In­sti­tute said in a new re­port Mon­day.

House Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee Chair­man Mac Thorn­berry, Texas Re­pub­li­can, re­leased de­tails of his own draft bud­get plan Mon­day, call­ing for nearly $37 bil­lion ex­tra for de­fense spend­ing, set­ting the base­line bud­get at $640 bil­lion.

“Today, we have too many planes that can­not fly, too many ships that can­not sail, too many sol­diers who can­not de­ploy, while too many threats are gath­er­ing,” Mr. Thorn­berry told re­porters on Capi­tol Hill.

Mr. Thorn­berry had planned to un­veil his com­mit­tee’s pro­posal, in­clud­ing the re­vised topline fig­ures, last Fri­day. How­ever, panel mem­bers can­celed the roll­out at the last minute, re­port­edly over con­fu­sion over how high House Repub­li­cans wanted to go above Pres­i­dent Trump’s pro­posal. Mr. Thorn­berry’s big­ger de­fense re­quest is also fac­ing push­back from deficit hawks in the Re­pub­li­can House cau­cus.

Mr. Thorn­berry said he would be open to ad­just­ing the panel’s fig­ures once the House and Se­nate ne­go­tia­tors meet to ham­mer out a com­pro­mise bud­get out­line. But the Texas law­maker did say the $40 bil­lion in­crease would likely be part of the full House de­fense panel’s pro­posal, he told re­porters on Capi­tol Hill Mon­day.

The House in­crease keeps pace with the in­creases called for by Se­nate Repub­li­cans. The bud­get pro­posal drafted by Se­nate Armed Ser­vices Chair­man John Mc­Cain, Ari­zona Re­pub­li­can, also calls for a $640 bil­lion Pen­tagon base bud­get. But the Se­nate panel is call­ing for an ad­di­tional $5 bil­lion for the de­part­ment’s war cof­fers. The ad­di­tional funds would be used to fi­nance U.S. op­er­a­tions in east­ern Europe aimed at coun­ter­ing Rus­sian ag­gres­sion in the re­gion.

While both pro­posed in­creases should sat­isfy de­fense hawks on Capi­tol Hill, the pres­i­dent’s mil­i­tary bud­get blue­print “em­pha­sizes the con­flicts of today and the wars of the dis­tant fu­ture, while dis­count­ing the long bar of the medium term, wherein most strate­gic and mil­i­tary risk lies,” Macken­zie Ea­glen, se­nior de­fense bud­get an­a­lyst at AEI, said in a new re­port re­leased Mon­day.

“Pres­i­dent Trump’s over­all fed­eral spend­ing blue­print sug­gests that balanc­ing the bud­get ranks above re­build­ing the mil­i­tary in the ad­min­is­tra­tion’s list of pri­or­i­ties,” Ms. Ea­glen wrote. “This should raise con­cerns about the pres­i­dent’s com­mit­ment to re­build­ing the mil­i­tary and his abil­ity to de­liver the leg­isla­tive changes Congress will need to do so.”

While Mr. Trump’s base­line and war fund­ing pro­posal of $668 bil­lion com­bined is $33 bil­lion more than what the Pen­tagon was al­lo­cated last fis­cal year — $18 bil­lion over what Obama-era de­fense of­fi­cials fore­casted for this fis­cal year, the pro­posal is a far cry from his cam­paign prom­ise last year to bring de­fense spend­ing to a much more am­bi­tious level.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.