UPDATED 6:27 AM PT – Wednesday, July 10, 2019
President Trump is drawing a line in the sand when it comes to defense spending. On Tuesday, the White House made its opposition known to the House version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which is headed for a vote this week. The 10 page statement highlights over 40 provisions and recommendations in the bill, which the administration “strongly objects to.”
The first major issue for the president is that the House bill would authorize $17 billion less for national defense than what was requested by the White House to keep the ball rolling on military upgrades.
“When I took over the military, it was absolutely depleted — we had old planes, we had old jets…I mean, just stuff that was tired. Now we have the finest jets in the world: the F-35; the F-18s — the new one. We have military equipment the likes of which we’ve never had…building submarines, building aircraft carriers — all made in the USA.” — President Trump
The money would largely come out of programs designed to upgrade the nation’s missile defense system, nuclear warheads, and the development and deployment of advanced aircraft. It would also take away an estimated $76 million in funding for INF treaty responses. Officials warn how this would put the U.S. at a disadvantage in the event Russia refuses to comply with the terms of the Cold War-era nuclear weapons deal by the August deadline.
“They’ve been violating it for many years, and I don’t know why President Obama didn’t negotiate or pull out,” stated President Trump. “And we’re not going to let them violate a nuclear agreement, and go out and do weapons and we’re not allowed to.”
Another major sticking point with the House version of the bill is that it would restrict President Trump’s ability to send troops to the southern border and to redirect Department of Defense funds to build a wall. The White House argues this would weaken the president’s constitutional authority to act as commander-in-chief.
While this battle continues to play out in the lower chamber, the Senate passed its version of the defense bill last month. Their bill totaled at $750 billion in spending as requested by the White House. Both chambers will need to come together to hammer out a compromise bill once the House passes legislation, which will require another vote before it can be sent to the president’s desk.