Wednesday, March 1, 2017

By Seth McLaughlin

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said Wednesday President Trump’s budget proposal for rebuilding the military falls short, joining a growing number of lawmakers who have panned the plan.

Rep. Mac Thornberry, Texas Republican, said he hopes the Trump administration will be open to increase the $603 billion proposal it put forward to $640 billion.

“I really have no doubt that the president is committed to rebuilding the military,” Mr. Thornberry said.

“Whether he has personally had the chance to dig down into the details of what that requires, I don’t know,” he said. “Do people at the White House understand how much damage has been done over the past several years? I don’t know. But, you know, that is part of our job as an independent branch of government to understand that and to try to convey that. That is why this is a continuing conversation.”

His counterpart on the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. John McCain of Arizona, has aired similar concerns, arguing the federal government must invest more in defense.

Mr. Thornberry said he wants a $91 billion increase in military spending over the 2018 spending caps. He said a wide range of House Republicans want to repeal the current $549 cap on defense spending — though it remains to be seen whether there is a way forward with Democrats, who want more spending for domestic discretionary programs.