- The Washington Times - Friday, November 30, 2018

The Republican heads of the House and Senate defense committees are slamming the Trump White House’s proposed $33 billion cut in projected Pentagon spending, saying the move would do nothing to reduce the nation’s growing deficits.

The White House’s proposed $700 billion Pentagon spending blueprint for fiscal 2020 budget by the Trump administration falls far short of the $733 billion Defense Department officials had originally projected and amount to “capricious last-minute cuts,” House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry of Texas and Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma argued in an op-ed published in the Wall Street Journal Friday.

“The Pentagon would be forced to cut in areas where the most money can be saved quickly — troops, new equipment, training and maintenance — … diminishing the U.S. capability to stay ahead of China and Russia, sacrificing readiness or all three,” the lawmakers wrote.

Members of the the National Defense Strategy Commission, a congressionally-mandated bipartisan panel consisting of a dozen current and former defense and intelligence officials, former top U.S. diplomats and lawmakers came to the same conclusion earlier this month.

“For the first time since the end of the Cold War, the United States is at risk of losing a future war against peer or near-peer competitors, mainly due to budget instability and insufficient funding provided by Congress,” said Arizona Republican Sen. John Kyl, a commission member.

Pentagon number crunchers had been projecting a budget for FY 2020 of $733 billion, to reflect an expected 3 to 5 percent increase based on Mr. Trump’s substantial increase in military spending in FY 2019. But department officials are preparing a second budget proposal of $700 billion following the White House’s demand for a 5 percent reduction across all federal agencies next fiscal year.

Mr. Trump has said the cuts would go a long way toward reducing the nation’s spending deficit, a claim Rep. Thornberry and Sen. Inhofevehemently challenged on Friday.

“The deficit would keep growing even if we eliminated the entire Pentagon budget. The president and Congress should not be duped into a false choice: rebuild our military or accept deep and growing deficits,” they wrote.

• Carlo Muñoz can be reached at cmunoz@washingtontimes.com.

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