Change of course has been a sort of identity for the President Donald Trump, be it about his nominations or policies of meetings with world leaders. Staying true to his habits, the president has yet again switched from his so-called pledge, and this time it is about the defense budget for the coming year.
According to the media reports, Trump, who initially vowed to cut defense spending, has now agreed to a request from Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, under which he’ll submit a $750 billion budget proposal for fiscal year 2020.
Earlier in a Tweet, Trump had called the defense spending of $716 billion this year “crazy.” Moreover, the administration had also hovered a 5 percent cut to the Defense Department in October–an attempt by the White House to reduce the deficit. As a result, the $716 billion defense budget allocated in 2019 plunged to $700 billion in 2020.
Prior to the proposed cuts, the defense officials on the other hand were planning on a $733 billion budget for the year 2020. The next day of the White House announcement, Mattis and key Republican lawmakers —Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services committees —sat with Trump for lunch to discuss the military funding, on Tuesday.
Mattis was accompanied by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) and Rep. Mac Thorn berry (R-Texas), who are in opposition of any defense budget cuts. Shortly after the meeting, administration officials on condition of anonymity announced that the president agreed on a budget of $750 billion.
“The President fully supports the National Defense Strategy and continuing to rebuild the military,” the official said. “With the help of Sen. Inhofe and Chairman Thorn berry, President Trump agreed to $750 billion top line.”
The new defense budget figure of $750 billion is not yet declared as official. According to an administration official, the official announcement is likely to be made this week.
However, a former official informed that both the Pentagon and Office of Management and Budget (OBM) are still sticking to the $733 billion proposal. A Defense Department spokesman, Lt. Col. Mike Andrews said that the department is “working with OMB to determine the department’s topline number.”
The defense budget includes funds for the military and the nuclear weapons elements of the Department of Energy. Officials from the Defense Department have stated that the budget under $733 billion would increase risk.
Experts, including a congressionally appointed panel, have also said that the larger number tracks should be a yearly increase of 3 to 5 percent to the defense budget.
While the federal government was aiming to reduce the budget deficit, the reversal course of President Trump is an apparent deviation from one of the major economic concerns. Although the announcement is yet to turn official, Trump’s intension behind backing off from his initial decision is not clear.