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Trump Vows 'Sustained, Stable Funding' to Meet Growing Defense Needs

President Trump speaks aboard the aircraft carrier Gerald R. Ford at Newport News Shipbuilding on March 2, 2017. (Steve Earley/The Virginian-Pilot via AP)

President Trump vowed while visiting the precommissioned aircraft carrier USS Gerald Ford today that “after years of endless budget cuts that have impaired our defenses” he’s “calling for one of the largest defense spending increases in history.”

His remarks came after Republican chairmen of the House and Senate armed services panel said his preliminary recommendations to boost the defense budget still weren’t enough.

Speaking to sailors aboard the ship in Newport News, Va., Trump said the aircraft carrier is hopefully “power we don’t have to use — but if we do, they’re in big, big trouble.”

“By eliminating the sequester and the uncertainty it creates, we will make it easier for the Navy to plan for the future and thus to control costs and get the best deals for the taxpayer which, of course, is very important. Right? Got to get a good deal,” he said. “We don’t make a good deal, we’re not doing our job. The same boat for less money. The same ship for less money. The same airplanes for less money. That’s what we’re doing. That’s what we’re doing. Means we’re going to get more of them, and we can use them.”

“Our military requires sustained, stable funding to meet the growing needs placed on our defense. Right now our aging front line strike and strike fighters, the whole aircraft, many, many aircraft, are often more likely to be down for maintenance than they are to be up in the sky. Our Navy is now the smallest it’s been since, believe or not, World War I. Don’t worry. It’s going to soon be the largest it’s been. Don’t worry.”

Trump’s budget proposal calls for a $54 billion hike in current defense spending, or a 9.4 percent increase in the base defense budget. That’s $18.5 billion higher than President Obama’s proposal for FY 2018.

“In other words, President Trump intends to submit a defense budget that is a mere 3 percent above President Obama’s defense budget, which has left our military underfunded, undersized, and unready to confront threats to our national security,” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCain (R-Ariz.) said Monday.

While the current Trump defense proposal is at $603 billion, the Armed Services chairmen want at least $640 billion spent on defense “as a first step toward restoring military readiness, rebuilding our military, and reshaping our forces for the realities of 21st century warfare.”

“With a world on fire, America cannot secure peace through strength with just 3 percent more than President Obama’s budget,” McCain said. “We can and must do better.”

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-Texas) noted that “over the course of the Obama Administration, our military funding was cut 20 percent while the world grew more dangerous.”

“While we cannot repair all of the damage done by those cuts in a single year, we can and should do more than this level of funding will allow,” Thornberry said. “The administration will have to make clear which problems facing our military they are choosing not to fix. We cannot make repairing and rebuilding our military conditional on fixing our budget problems or on cutting other spending. We owe it to the men and women who serve and to the American people to protect our nation’s security under all circumstances.”