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Trump to request increased $750 billion defense budget proposal after calling for cuts, report says

President Donald J. Trump receives a briefing from senior military leaders Tuesday, Oct. 23, 2018, in the Cabinet Room of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
December 10, 2018

After initially calling for cuts to the 2020 defense budget, President Donald Trump has now reportedly requested a proposal for an increased budget.

Two officials with the Trump Administration told Politico on Sunday that Trump has now requested a $750 billion defense budget proposal, after both criticizing this year’s $716 billion budget and calling for a reduced $700 billion budget.

“It’s 750. Secretary Mattis secured that over lunch with the President,” one official reportedly said, adding that $750 billion was “the top line.”

The official said the number was discussed during a meeting President Trump had with Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, along with Republican members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees, Sen. Jim Inhofe and Rep. Mac Thornberry.

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Although the number has not yet been announced, one official told Politico that it may be announced later this week. The second official called the $750 billion proposal a “negotiating tactic.”

The 2020 budget was expected to increase to $733 billion, although Trump has demanded a reduction to trim the budget back down to $700 billion. He previously asked for two separate budget proposals representing each of these amounts.

“I’m going to ask each of you to come back with a 5 percent budget cut,” Trump told his Cabinet in October. “Get rid of the fat, get rid of the waste. And I’m sure you can do it.”

In August, Trump signed a $717 billion defense spending bill for fiscal year 2019. The bill was the “most significant investment in our military and our war fighters in modern history,” Trump said at the time, according to CNBC.

The bill also provided the largest pay increase to U.S. troops in almost a decade.

However, last week, Trump criticized the budget, calling it “crazy.”

“I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race. The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!” he tweeted.

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Several lawmakers later raised concerns that the budget cut would be detrimental to the military and national security – even dangerous. This pushback may have influenced the President to change his course on a budget cut.

“I want to make sure that the President knows if we don’t do this – if we don’t stay with” the $733 billion request – “that we are are going to be downgrading the military,” Inhofe said, adding, “I’m not sure he has clearly thought that through.”

Inhofe and Sen. Tom Cotton both referred to the five-percent cut as “alarming.”

Mattis, along with Navy Secretary Richard Spencer, and various other generals and military officials have all reportedly argued against the five-percent budget cut, suggesting that such a reduction could negatively impact military and national security operations.

“Without sustained, predictable funding, the gains we’ve made will swiftly fade and our investments will never realize their full potential,” Mattis said during a Dec. 1 speech at the Reagan Presidential Library.

Deputy Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan said in November that the budget cut would mean that the military could not proceed with size increases as planned, and acquiring new weapons would be delayed.