Trump reportedly told the Pentagon to increase the defence budget to $750 billion after saying he would cut spending by 5%

Win McNamee/Getty ImagesU.S. Defence Secretary Jim Mattis listens as U.S. President Donald Trump answers questions during a meeting with military leaders in the Cabinet Room on October 23, 2018 in Washington, DC.
  • President Donald Trump has reportedly asked Defence Secretary Jim Mattis to prepare a $US750 billion budget proposal for military spending 2020, according to Politico.
  • Just months ago, Trump asked every major cabinet agency to submit proposals cutting their budget by 5% next year.
  • Since his presidential campaign, Trump has appeared to vacillate between wanting to boost and diminish military spending.

President Donald Trump has reportedly told Defence Secretary Jim Mattis to prepare a $US750 billion budget proposal for 2020, according to Politico’s Wesley Morgan.

This request comes just months after Trump asked every major cabinet agency to submit proposals cutting their budget by 5% next year, according to The Washington Post. Trump said he wanted to see the defence budget decrease by 2%, from $US716 billion to $US700 billion.

Politico’s sources said that that Trump met Tuesday with Mattis and the Republican chairmen of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees, and decided on the $US750 billion number. One source, a former administration official, said Trump suggested this figure as a “negotiating tactic” to make sure Democrats don’t push the defence budget below $US733 billion, which is what Mattis and the chairman of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees had wanted.

Read more: The 15 countries with the highest military budgets in 2017

In November 2018, those two chairmen, James Inhofe, and Mac Thornberry, published an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal urging the President not to cut military spending. “Any cut in the defence budget would be a senseless step backward,” they wrote. “The Pentagon would be forced to cut in areas where the most money can be saved quickly – troops, new equipment, training and maintenance-as it did under sequestration in 2013.”

Trump called the $US716 billion 2019 defence budget ‘the most significant investment in our military in our war fighters in modern history’

Trump has appeared to vacillate between advocating for increasing and decreasing military spending. Bumping up defence spending was a big part of his presidential campaign, CNN reported. When he signed the $US716 billion 2019 defence budget, he called it “the most significant investment in our military in our war fighters in modern history.”

And according to The Washington Post, Trump has threatened to shut down the government if he doesn’t get at least $US5 billion for the construction of a border wall.

On Monday, however, Trump tweeted: “I am certain that, at some time in the future, President Xi and I, together with President Putin of Russia, will start talking about a meaningful halt to what has become a major and uncontrollable Arms Race. The U.S. spent 716 Billion Dollars this year. Crazy!”

Politico reported that the $US750 billion number isn’t official yet, and should be announced this week.

The defence budget includes the Pentagon and Department of Energy funding for the US nuclear arsenal, Politico reported. However, defence funding is still subject to the Budget Control Act spending caps, so this increase wouldn’t be put into action until lawmakers agreed to a deal to lift the caps.

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