President Donald Trump has called for a defense budget of $750 billion for next year, proposed by Defense Secretary James Mattis, which represents a significant increase from what he previously wanted and $12 billion more than top military officials have been pushing for, The Hill informs.
Only last week, the President called for a 5-percent cut to the Defense Department’s $716 billion budget, calling it “crazy.” However, he appears to have changed his mind after a meeting Tuesday with Mattis and the chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services committees, Representatives Mac Thornberry and Senator James Inhofe.
“It’s 750 [billion]. Secretary Mattis secured that over lunch with the president. That’s the top line,” an administration official with knowledge of the discussions said.
Trump initially pushed for a $700 billion defense budget for fiscal year 2020, while Mattis and other defense officials pushed for a $733 billion budget. But an administration official said the President agreed to the substantially higher budget “with the help of Senators Inhofe and Chairman Thornberry” as he “fully supports the National Defense Strategy and continuing to rebuild the military.”
Some experts have been seeking an increase in the defense budget of 3 to 5%, which includes money for the military as well as the nuclear weapons elements of the Department of Energy.
Prior to the meeting, the Trump administration had been insisting on a cut in the defense budget as part of a wider effort to trim spending across the federal agencies and reduce the deficit. Defense officials, on the other hand, insisted that anything under $733 billion would increase risk.
“The Department is committed to ensuring our military remains the most lethal force in the world. We are working with OMB (Office of Management and Budget) to determine the department’s topline number,” Lieutenant Colonel Mike Andrews, a Defense Department spokesman, told CNN before the meeting.