Armed Services chairmen meet with Trump on potential cuts to Defense

The Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services committees met with President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump administration eyes proposal to block jet engine sales to China: report Trump takes track to open Daytona 500 Brazile 'extremely dismayed' by Bloomberg record MORE on Tuesday afternoon in an attempt to sway the commander in chief against making dramatic cuts to the Defense budget.

The meeting with Rep. Mac ThornberryWilliam (Mac) McClellan ThornberryUS defense chief says Taliban deal 'looks very promising' but not without risk Lawmakers wary as US on cusp of initial deal with Taliban Overnight Defense: Senate votes to rein in Trump war powers on Iran | Pentagon shifting .8B to border wall | US, Taliban negotiate seven-day 'reduction in violence' MORE (R-Texas) and Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeOvernight Energy: Controversial Trump adviser reportedly returning to EPA | Delta aims to be first carbon neutral airline | Dem senator gives EPA D-minus on 'forever chemicals' Architect of controversial EPA policies to return as chief of staff: report Democratic senators press Interior official over proposed changes to migratory bird protections MORE (R-Okla.) comes as the president has been weighing cutting $33 billion from the $733 billion sought by the Pentagon for the national security budget for 2020. Trump called for a 5 percent cut from every agency’s budget, including the Department of Defense, earlier this year.

“I had a frank and productive conversation about our national security goals with the President. We share a commitment to undoing the damage left behind by President Obama and to rebuilding our military to achieve the National Defense Strategy,” Inhofe said in a statement.

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“I am confident from the meeting that the President is determined to keep our nation strong and the military adequately funded. I look forward to continuing to work with President Trump and Vice President Pence to achieve these shared goals.”

Defense hawks argue that a cut to the defense budget after two years of increases would reverse progress made to address a so-called readiness crisis.

In an op-ed published by The Wall Street Journal last week, the chairmen argued reducing funding would hinder Republican efforts to modernize and build the military. The lawmakers said that while there are places where money could be saved, cuts to defense spending would not play a significant role in closing the deficit and could put the country’s safety at risk.

“The participants reviewed the damage done to the military during the Obama Administration. President Trump has been keeping his promise to repair that damage and restore our strength,” a House committee aide told The Hill in a statement. “The participants believe we continue to make progress and are still on track to rebuild the military.”

A source familiar with the meeting said the president’s initial request of $733 billion is making the president’s push for cuts difficult during the negotiation process.

Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman MattisFed chief issues stark warning to Congress on deficits Why US democracy support matters Hillicon Valley: DOJ indicts four Chinese military officers over Equifax hack | Amazon seeks Trump deposition in 'war cloud' lawsuit | Inside Trump's budget | Republican proposes FTC overhaul MORE has also recently argued against cuts to the defense budget, similarly arguing that it would not close the deficit while hindering the military.

“Cutting defense will not close the deficit, and I would suggest doing so would be disservice to troops and the American people they serve and protect, because we all know here today that America can afford survival,” he said at this weekend’s Reagan National Defense Forum, where he also commended Inhofe and Thornberry’s op-ed.

While Thornberry was at the table Tuesday, he will relinquish the House Armed Services gavel in January when Democrats take control of the chamber. His likely successor, Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithTop Armed Services Republican: Pentagon using .8B on border wall 'requires Congress to take action' Trump under pressure to renew last nuke treaty with Russia Democrats look to ramp up fight over Trump's war powers MORE (D-Wash.), has said trimming the defense budget will be one of his priorities.