WASHINGTON (AP) — The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Thursday he'll push to increase defense spending by $37 billion more than the Trump administration proposed to pay for more troops and new weapons.
Speaking to reporters, Rep. Mac Thornberry said he'll seek $640 billion for the Defense Department in the 2018 fiscal year, which begins Oct. 1. His comments came a day after his GOP colleagues on the House Budget Committee agreed on a fiscal outline that would provide the military with about $20 billion less.
Thornberry said he'd be willing to agree to a lower number if he can be assured that future defense budgets will be stable and substantial enough for a U.S. military that's been running at a high tempo for a decade and a half. The Texas Republican and other defense hawks have been pushing to repeal a law known as sequestration that strictly limits military spending and led to uncertainty over how much money the department will get each year.
"If I am going to agree to do less than I believe is necessary to fix the problems facing the military today, then the only way I could do that is if there is future stability, future funding, future predictability," Thornberry said. "That's a value to me."
The chairman's defense budget blueprint to be publicly released Monday also will include $65 billion for wartime ongoing military operations, bringing his proposed total to $705 billion — more than at any point during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
His counterpart in the Senate, Armed Services chairman John McCain, also supports a core defense budget of $640 billion.
Thornberry's plan will recommend a full 2.4 percent pay raise for U.S. service members, more spending for missile defense programs to help shield the homeland from a potential attack by North Korea, and additional troops for the Army, Navy and Air Force.
Contact Richard Lardner on Twitter: http://twitter.com/rplardner