President Donald Trump was quick to attack California Democratic Sen. Kamala Harris on her defense record after Joe Biden announced he picked her as his vice presidential running mate for the November election.
“She wants to slash funds for our military at a level that nobody can even believe,” Trump said during a White House press conference Tuesday, just hours after Biden’s announcement. Trump added, “As far as Kamala is concerned, she’s a big tax raiser, she’s a big slasher of funds for our military, and she’s got a lot of difficult things that she’s going to have to explain.”
A Politico candidate tracker launched for the Democratic primary season did list Harris as one of eight Democratic candidates who ran for president on a general plan of cutting defense spending. Biden himself was listed as one of the Democratic candidates in favor of generally supporting larger defense budgets if elected president.
The Council on Foreign Relations similarly said as a presidential candidate, Harris “voted against increasing defense spending, promised to limit U.S. military engagements abroad, and called white supremacist violence the top domestic terrorism threat.”
A presidential candidate profile published by the U.S. Global Leadership Coalition also noted Harris has called for preventing the need for military action through “smart diplomacy” as far back as her 2016 U.S. Senate campaign.
“In her 2016 campaign for the U.S. Senate, her foreign policy platform called for preventing the need for military action through ‘the power of smart diplomacy’ and embracing multilateral engagement and alliances,” the profile states.
The profile also noted Harris has called for more funding for global development and diplomacy programs saying that while such programs make up less than 1 percent of the U.S. federal budget, “these investments make us safer and more secure because they strengthen vulnerable societies and help us avoid military interventions.”
Trump himself has said pledged throughout his presidency to rebuild the U.S. military with new defense spending. In a 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) speech, Trump said he would build the U.S. military to be “bigger and better and stronger” and said ,”It will be one of the greatest military buildups in American history. No one will dare question, as they have been because we are very depleted, our military might again. We believe in peace through strength and that’s what we will have.”
Last year Trump signed off on a roughly $738 billion defense budget that included a 3.1 percent pay raise for military personnel. In February, Trump called for another 3 percent pay raise for military personnel to be included in the 2021 defense budget.