President Trump is expected to ask for $716 billion in defense spending when he unveils his 2019 budget next month, a major increase that signals a shift away from concerns about rising deficits, U.S. officials said.
The proposed budget is a victory for Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, who recently unveiled a strategy that proposes retooling the military to deter and, if necessary, fight a potential conflict with major powers such as China and Russia.
And it represents a setback for deficit hawks such as Mick Mulvaney, director of the Office of Management and Budget, who last year pressed for an increase in defense spending that could be offset by cuts to domestic programs.
The $716 billion figure for 2019 would cover the Pentagon’s annual budget as well as spending on ongoing wars and the maintenance of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. It would increase Pentagon spending by more than 7 percent over the 2018 budget, which still has not passed through Congress.
The proposed budget would be a 13 percent increase over 2017, when the United States spent about $634 billion on defense. In the absence of a budget, spending continues at 2017 levels.