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 TrumpBooker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Booker hits Biden's defense of remarks about segregationist senators: 'He's better than this' Trump says Democrats are handing out subpoenas 'like they're cookies' 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: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One House panel approves 3B defense policy bill House panel approves 3B defense policy bill MORE (R-Texas) and Sen. Jim InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump's reelection message: Promises kept The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's reelection message: Promises kept Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless 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 MattisThe Hill's Morning Report - Trump's reelection message: Promises kept The Hill's Morning Report - Trump's reelection message: Promises kept Shanahan drama shocks Capitol Hill, leaving Pentagon rudderless 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 SmithOvernight Defense: Pompeo blames Iran for oil tanker attacks | House panel approves 3B defense bill | Trump shares designs for red, white and blue Air Force One House panel approves 3B defense policy bill House panel approves 3B defense policy bill MORE (D-Wash.), has said trimming the defense budget will be one of his priorities.