Trump requests $30B more for defense spending for fiscal 2017

Trump requests $30B more for defense spending for fiscal 2017
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The White House is requesting $30 billion more in defense spending for fiscal year 2017 to pay for the fight against the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), more equipment across the services and other items considered urgently needed.

“The appropriations request seeks to address critical budget shortfalls in personnel, training, maintenance, equipment, munitions, modernization, and infrastructure investment,” budget director Mick Mulvaney wrote in an outline sent to Congress. “The request is a first step in investing in a larger, more ready, and more capable force.”

A large chunk of the defense request — $24.9 billion — would be added to the base defense budget, requiring a change to the budget cap law and making the request’s prospects in Congress unclear.

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The request’s inclusion of $3 billion for border security, including $1.5 billion for President Trump’s proposed wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, is also politically dicey.

For the defense base budget, the request breaks down into $977 million for personnel costs, $7.2 billion for operations and maintenance, $2.1 billion for research and development, $962 million for increased supply stocks and critical facility repair and $236 million for military construction for previously authorized but unfinished projects.

It would also provide $13.5 billion for procurement and modernization, including additional Army Apache and Blackhawk helicopters, F-35 and F/A-18 fighter aircraft, tactical missiles and unmanned aircraft systems.

The request would also provide $5.1 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) account.

More than $4 billion of that would go to items related to the fight against ISIS, including $1.4 billion for immediate needs such as force protection and munitions, $2 billion for a “flexible fund” for the Pentagon to allocate when the pending new counter-ISIS strategy is approved and $626 million to train and equip Iraqi and Syrian partners.

The remaining $1.1 billion in war fund money would go toward the war in Afghanistan and other counterterrorism activities, including “planning and design of construction projects in support of Detention Operations at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba.”

The request also includes $18 billion in cuts to nondefense programs to offset the increases. It’s unclear, however, from the outline released Thursday where the cuts are coming from.

The cuts mean the entire proposal would be $10 billion above budget caps set for fiscal 2017.

Also unclear is how Congress plans to handle the request. Congress must pass a bill to fund the government by April 28 or face a government shutdown.

Democrats have said they won’t vote for a spending bill that includes funding for Trump’s border wall. They are also likely to balk at changing the budget cap law to increase defense spending while cutting other spending. 

The release of the supplemental request comes the same day the Trump administration released its budget outline for fiscal 2018. That proposal calls for a total of $668 billion in defense spending, broken down in $65 billion for OCO and $603 billion for the base budget.