WASHINGTON — Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday went to the Senate to make the case for a boost in defense spending this year and met with skepticism from Democrats and indications of the tough political road ahead.
Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, urged an appropriations subcommittee to support President Donald Trump’s request for an immediate $30 billion in supplemental funding for more troops, training, hardware and overseas operations that they say could help patch up declining military readiness.
“I think we will double the number of deployable army brigades … If you support it, we will deliver a readiness that helps us should we need to fight,” Mattis told the Senate panel.
The $30 billion could be added to a $578 billion defense spending bill that the House passed earlier this month to fund the Defense Department from May through September. The Senate has yet to weigh in and Congress must approve new Defense Department spending legislation by April 28 when the current budget expires.
But Democrats questioned the $30 billion, saying the Trump administration has made a request that would bust federal spending caps and could trigger deep sequester cuts.
Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., said the supplemental request would violate the Budget Control Act of 2011, which sets spending limits, and trigger 5-percent cuts across the board at the Defense Department.
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