Senate Democrats could still thwart Trump's military buildup plans

The U.S. Senate. Stars and Stripes
The U.S. Senate. Stars and Stripes

Senate Democrats could still thwart Trump's military buildup plans

by: Travis J. Tritten | .
Stars and Stripes | .
published: January 24, 2017

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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