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 nominates Jeffrey Rosen to replace Rosenstein at DOJ McCabe says ‘it’s possible’ Trump is a Russian asset McCabe: Trump ‘undermining the role of law enforcement’ 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 ThornberryOvernight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Trump defends using DOD funds on border wall: 'Some of the generals think that this is more important' Overnight Defense: Trump to sign funding deal, declare national emergency | Shanahan says allies will be consulted on Afghanistan | Dem demands Khashoggi documents MORE (R-Texas) and Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeAllies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump On The Money: Trump to sign border deal, declare emergency to build wall | Senate passes funding bill, House to follow | Dems promise challenge to emergency declaration Trump to sign border deal, declare national emergency 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 MattisAllies wary of Shanahan's assurances with looming presence of Trump Congress closer to forcing Trump’s hand on Saudi support Trump nominates ambassador to Turkey 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 SmithTrump’s state of emergency declaration imperils defense budget Overnight Defense: Trump declares border emergency | .6B in military construction funds to be used for wall | Trump believes Obama would have started war with North Korea | Pentagon delivers aid for Venezuelan migrants Papering over climate change impacts is indefensible MORE (D-Wash.), has said trimming the defense budget will be one of his priorities.