Trump to Congress: Give Pentagon $54B. I’ll Tell You Why Later

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, right, and U.S. President Donald Trump walk into the Pentagon in Washington, Jan. 27, 2017.

Susan Walsh/AP

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U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, right, and U.S. President Donald Trump walk into the Pentagon in Washington, Jan. 27, 2017.

The roughly 10% boost would come out of nearly every other federal agency’s 2018 budget, including foreign aid.

The Trump administration will require $54 billion in cuts at non-national security federal agencies in its preliminary fiscal 2018 budget proposal, an Office of Management and Budget official said Monday. Nearly every domestic agency will shoulder a share of the reductions.

The spending decreases will offset an equal increase in spending at the Defense Department, which the official said will primarily be given to the Pentagon to spend as it sees fit. The proposed boost, which still must go through the congressional appropriations process, would represent about a 10 percent increase to the Defense budget. The White House will propose that foreign aid be cut to partially offset the new spending.

The OMB official called the forthcoming blueprint, which the White House will release in March, a “security budget” that will put America first. It will focus only on top-line allocations to major agencies, with a full budget coming later in the year. It will give direction exclusively on discretionary spending, with any proposals on mandatory spending also coming later. Overall, the cuts represent about a 10 percent decrease to non-Defense discretionary spending.

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The White House will look to identify areas of unauthorized spending, the official said, which will “inform the back and forth” with agencies. The increase in security spending will lead to cuts at “lower priority programs.” The official declined to elaborate on what agencies will be most affected by the cuts, saying only that “most agencies will see a reduction.”

It was also unclear how a spending surge at the Homeland Security Department to pay for Trump’s proposed border wall and hiring surge at immigration enforcement agencies will factor into the budget outlook. The Trump administration will expect the “rest of the world to step up” to fund aid programs the United States had previously supported, the OMB official said.

Agencies will receive a directive from OMB at noon on Monday to begin working on proposals under the new constraints.

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