- The Washington Times - Tuesday, June 11, 2019

The top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee is planning to introduce amendments that would increase the panel’s proposed defense budget to $750 billion.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, Texas Republican, announced early Tuesday that he will push to add $17 billion to the bill proposed by the House committee and argued the proposed budget “reduces or eliminates vital programs, including emergency funding to restore installations damaged by extreme weather … funding to maintain our nuclear deterrence and ensure its safety, and missile defense.”

The new Democratic majority on the panel this week released its first blueprint for the nation’s defense budget, a $733 billion authorization bill for the Pentagon for the coming fiscal year that blocks any funds for President Trump’s border wall, puts new restrictions on the Guantanamo terrorist detainee prison, and includes no money for Mr. Trump’s proposed Space Force.

“I am concerned that by imposing another insufficient and arbitrary topline, the [Democratic bill] is forcing those unwise choices once again,” Mr. Thornberry said in a statement.

The House panel’s version of the budget differs sharply from the Republican-led Senate Armed Services Committee’s $750 billion draft released last month. The Senate panel gave Mr. Trump a victory on the top-line spending and the establishment of a Space Force, but also pared back his requests for a border wall with Mexico by billions of dollars.

In a statement, the ranking member said that Chairman Adam Smith’s version of the budget “does not do enough to offset those cuts through agility or efficiency focused reforms.”

Speaking to reporters Monday, Mr. Smith, Washington state Democrat, defended his committee’s top-line figure and said “throw $17 billion at people in the last minute they’ll spend it. Whether or not they spend it well I think is highly debatable.”

Mr. Thornberry has long pushed for a 3% increase to the defense budget which aligns with testimonies of Acting Secretary Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Joseph Dunford, who have said that the military requires between a 3% to 5% funding increase to deter threats posed by Russia and China and improve military readiness.

The full House panel is set to meet Wednesday for a lengthy mark-up session for the bill.

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