McCain: Trump defense budget not enough for ‘world on fire’

Victoria Sarno Jordan

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is blasting President Trump’s proposed defense budget for fiscal 2018, saying that a “world on fire” requires a bigger increase in spending.

“With a world on fire, America cannot secure peace through strength with just 3 percent more than President Obama’s budget,” McCain, the chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a statement Monday. “We can and must do better.”

The administration announced Monday a $603 billion base defense budget proposal.

That’s $54 billion more than the Budget Control Act caps on defense spending for fiscal 2018 but well below what McCain and his House counterpart, Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), had proposed.

The chairmen have argued for a $640 billion base budget for defense in fiscal 2018. Thornberry also expressed disappointment in the administration’s proposal Monday.

In a white paper released in January, McCain outlined his vision for $640 billion for 2018 with annual increases afterward that bring the defense budget to $800 billion in fiscal 2022.

The $640 billion is $54 billion above what the Obama administration had projected for 2018.

Meanwhile, Trump’s request is $18.5 billion above Obama’s projection.

“In other words, President Trump intends to submit a defense budget that is a mere 3 percent above President Obama’s defense budget, which has left our military underfunded, undersized, and unready to confront threats to our national security,” McCain said.

Both the $640 billion proposed by Thornberry and McCain and the $603 billion proposed by the administration would blow past the projected cap in defense spending set by the Budget Control Act, which also requires defense and nondefense spending to rise or fall with each other.

Republicans and the Trump administration have called for ending the caps on defense spending, but Democrats are likely to hold firm in their demand for parity between defense and nondefense spending.

With Republicans holding just 52 seats in the Senate, they’ll need some Senate Democrats to get on board to meet the 60-vote threshold. 

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