WASHINGTON — The Trump administration reportedly plans to seek a defense budget of $716 billion as part of its fiscal 2019 budget request.
The figure, first reported by The Washington Post, would represent an increase over the figure authorized by members of Congress for fiscal 2018, money which has yet to be appropriated.
The Trump administration’s FY18 budget for defense came in at $603 billion — $18.5 billion more than the Obama administration projected for 2018, a number that defense hawks instantly declared was too small.
In response, the House passed a $696.5 billion National Defense Authorization Act, with the Senate passing one at $700 billion.
Members of the defense committees, including Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., expressed frustration during the budget process that Mattis was not being more vocal about the need for additional defense spending.
They are likely to be enthused by the FY19 total — especially as the Pentagon is positioning this budget as yet another stopgap year before a larger funding surge in FY20.
While FY19 will include a “step up” in the defense budget, FY20 will be the “masterpiece,” said Deputy Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan in December. He said that was largely because of the logistics surrounding the National Security Strategy and its follow-ons, the National Defense Strategy, the Ballistic Missile Defense Review and the Nuclear Posture Review.
Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis has said he needs 3 to 5 percent annual budgetary growth for the Pentagon to continue meeting its requirements.
Correction: the original version of this story stated the proposed budget figure was $217 billion. That total proposed is $716 billion.