Policy & Strategy

Trump boasts of defense increases despite Congressional roadblocks

President Trump on Wednesday touted a "dramatic increase" in defense spending this year, despite the fact Congress has yet to pass any such spending bill and faces a possible government shutdown over the legislation.

In a speech just more than 20 minutes in length at the American Legion's national convention in Reno, Nev., Trump boasted of a growing military and a heftier defense budget.

"I promised we will build up our military and that's exactly what we have done," Trump told the crowd. "I am proud to report we have worked with Congress to achieve a dramatic increase in defense spending this year."

In reality, Congress is still yet to agree on how much the next defense budget should hold.

Lawmakers return from August recess next month to tackle the fiscal year 2018 defense spending bill before the 2017 budget expires on Sep. 30.

It is likely Congress will pass a continuing resolution, a short-term measure used to keep the Pentagon running before lawmakers can agree on a final budget in December, as has occurred in the past several years.

Defense Secretary James Mattis said passing a continuing resolution is "about as unwise as can be" because it freezes spending levels and prevents new programs from starting.

But there is also the threat of a government shutdown, an idea floated by Trump himself at a rally in Arizona the night before.

Trump threatened to shut down the government, if necessary, over his cornerstone campaign pledge to build a border wall between Mexico and the United States.

"If we have to close down our government, we're building that wall," Trump said. "One way or the other, we're going to get that wall."

Trump also reiterated his Monday night announcement on how his administration will look to win the nation's longest-running war.

"No longer are we using our military to build democracies. Instead, we're forming a coalition of nations that share the aim of stamping out extremism, defeating terrorism and pursuing stability, prosperity and peace," he said.

Trump is expected to send roughly 4,000 additional U.S. troops to the country, but on Monday and at the Wednesday convention declined to say how many troops he would send.

"We will pursue an honorable and enduring outcome in Afghanistan. ... We will give our men and women in uniform the tools they need and the trust they have earned to fight and to win," Trump said.

"We have made, as you have been reading and seeing, tremendous progress in the fight against terrorism," he said, noting the liberation of Mosul, Iraq, from the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS) last month.

He also promised new efforts to combat ISIS "on the internet," but was vague about what that would entail.

"We're going to start working very hard on the internet because they're using the internet at a level that they should not be allowed to use the internet," Trump said. "They're recruiting from the internet. And we are going to work under my administration very hard so that that doesn't happen."

Outbrain
View desktop version