WASHINGTON – Hopes that President Donald Trump and a Republican-controlled Congress will quickly pass the biggest military buildup in a generation are set to face hard political realities on Capitol Hill, a group of budget experts said Monday.
“It’s not Christmas in July,” despite a sense of euphoria and optimism in defense circles, said Mackenzie Eaglen, a resident fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank in Washington, D.C.
Senate Democrats could still block any moves to get around defense spending caps – the biggest obstacle standing in the way of Trump’s estimated $80-billion annual hike for troops, ships and aircraft, Eaglen and other experts on the defense budget said during a forum at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, another Washington think tank.
“I think that a lot of people assume that after the election we have one-party control of government so as long as Republicans agree with each other and come up with a plan … then they can just push it through,” said Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the center. “But not so quick. They going to have to have some Democrats.”
The president has proposed a 350-ship Navy, up from 276; an Army of 540,000, up from 490,000; an increase to 36 Marine Corps battalions from 23, and about 87 more Air Force fighter aircraft. The new administration could release a proposed, top-line spending amount for the Defense Department next month.
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