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Pentagon budget 2020: Trump’s USD750 billion request to meet congressional opposition

12 March 2019
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US marines with Marine Rotational Force-Europe 19.1 hike during an exercise in Norway. The Trump administration has sent Congress its FY 2020 budget request with USD718 billion slated for the Pentagon, but with less funding for the European Deterrence Initiative. Source: US Marine Corps

The Trump administration has delivered its fiscal year 2020 (FY 2020) budget request to Congress that includes USD750 billion for national defence funding. The proposal is expected to face tough congressional scrutiny, however, due to a controversial move to obviate mandated discretionary spending limits, USD7.2 billion requested for military spending on a border wall with Mexico, and various programme cuts.

On 11 March lawmakers received the president's annual budget request and the Pentagon began detailing the plan it has billed as the pièce de résistance in the transition from fighting counter-insurgency operations to preparing for large-scale, near-peer conventional conflicts.

In total, the administration requested USD750 billion to fund national defence efforts next year, with USD718.349 billion for the US Department of Defense (DoD) and about USD32 billion for other national security efforts such as the US Department of Energy's nuclear weapons enterprise.

The budget proposal is likely to garner pushback from lawmakers, as Democrats control the House of Representatives and will have to hash out a final deal with their Republican counterparts in the Senate before a budget appropriations bill is sent to the president to be enacted.

A notable challenge will be in how the White House structured its request to circumvent congressionally mandated budget limits that are set to return in FY 2020 unless lawmakers pass overriding legislation. The request is structured with USD544.5 billion in the base budget and USD164.6 billion set aside in an Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) pot that has been criticised as a budgeting gimmick. The OCO proposal is a significant increase from the FY 2019 figure of USD69 billion.

There is also an additional USD9.2 billion requested for "emergency requirements". So-called emergency requirements include "unspecified construction for emergencies" that cover President Donald Trump's controversial plan to build a border wall, but also include reconstruction efforts to rebuild facilities damaged by hurricanes Florence and Michael.

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