The top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee is questioning whether President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer Sen. Heller to run for Nevada governor Overnight Defense & National Security — Milley becomes lightning rod Joint Chiefs Chairman Milley becomes lightning rod on right MORE’s proposed military budget would actually improve national security, despite the massive increases in defense spending.
“Right now, the Trump administration apparently has one and only one approach, and that is to try to present the world with the most massive military he can possibly and hyperbolically describe as a deterrent to their bad actions,” Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithStumbling plutonium pit project reveals DOE's uphill climb of nuclear modernization Congress should control its appetite for legacy programs when increasing defense budget House panel advances 8B defense bill MORE (D-Wash.) said in an interview published Monday by Task & Purpose. “I am aware of the threats — as aware as anybody — but there is a finite amount of money out there and they seem to be pretending that there’s not.”
Smith said the administration should instead focus on building diplomatic partnerships with other nations that have similar interests as the U.S. in order to work with countries such as China, Iran, North Korea and Russia to reduce threats.
He also slammed the administration for “diving into a nuclear arms race with Russia and China.”
“The amount of money that we’re proposing to spend on nukes, I think, is both excessive and the wrong policy, without question,” Smith said.
Smith expressed concern that Trump’s proposed budget — along with recently passed GOP tax legislation — will add to the nation’s deficit. Congress also passed a sweeping budget deal this month that will set the stage for $300 billion more in federal spending over the next two years.
“Let’s just say we are spending vastly more money than we’re taking in and that has very bad implications in terms of being able to function properly,” Smith said. “There are some other areas where I think we could save money and be more realistic about it. The numbers simply don’t add up.”
The Trump administration last week unveiled a $716 billion defense budget request for fiscal 2019.
That includes $686 billion for the Pentagon, split between $617 billion for the base budget and $69 billion for a war fund known as the Overseas Contingency Operations account.
The money would add 25,900 troops to the ranks, 24,100 of which would be active duty. That would be split between 11,500 active-duty soldiers, 7,500 active-duty sailors, 1,000 active-duty Marines and 4,000 active-duty airmen.
The billions would also pay for 77 more F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, 24 F/A-18 Super Hornet fighter jets and 10 new Navy ships, among other hardware additions.
— Rebecca Kheel contributed