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Military spending set to increase for fifth consecutive year

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WASHINGTON — America’s military budget is set to grow for a fifth consecutive year to near-historic highs in 2020, as lawmakers push increases in defense spending for next year despite opposition from some liberals in Congress and deficit hawks.

The Trump administration has proposed $750 billion in defense spending as part of its budget request to Congress for next year, as well as steep cuts to domestic programs in health care and education.

House Democrats in their budget proposed increasing defense spending to $733 billion a year — an increase in line with inflation — in exchange for Republican support for an increase in domestic spending that would be twice as large.

Under either budget plan, America is expected to in 2020 spend more on its military than at any point since World War II, except for a handful of years at the height of the Iraq War, said Todd Harrison, a defense budget expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, a think-tank focused on foreign policy.

Harrison’s conclusion is supported by the Committee for a Responsible Federal Budget and William Hartung, a budget expert at the Center for International Policy, a left-leaning think-tank. (In dollar terms, without adjusting for inflation, America’s military budget is set to be the highest ever.)

The increase suggests the U.S. military will continue to expand despite Trump’s calls to limit America’s involvement overseas. It also contradicts predictions by some analysts that Democrats would seek to cut military spending after winning the House in the 2018 midterm elections.

The Pentagon and White House have argued that nearly two decades of warfare in Iraq and Afghanistan left America’s military arsenal at risk of losing the global preeminence it has enjoyed since World War II.

Pentagon officials have said the additional resources are needed to counter military escalations in Russia and China, which have invested heavily in next-generation military weaponry. Russia claims to have already developed a hypersonic missile that can travel faster than the speed of sound, something some defense hawks warn could threaten U.S. missile defense systems that were designed decades ago. And China has invested heavily in new submarines, warships, and other war equipment as its defense budget ballooned.

A 2018 report put together by the Pentagon in conjunction with the White House stated “all facets of the manufacturing and defense industrial base are currently under threat” and claimed some entire industries within the military supply chain are “near extinction.”

“This strategy-driven budget makes necessary investments in next-generation technology, space, missiles, and cyber capabilities,” Acting Secretary of Defense Patrick Shanahan said in a statement about the military’s budget request said in a statement. “The operations and capabilities supported by this budget will strongly position the US military for great power competition for decades to come.”

The Congressional Progressive Caucus derailed plans to pass the budget bill written by Democratic leaders through the House last week, withholding their support as they accused party leaders of giving away too much in an opening bid in what promises to be a lengthy fight.

The budget disagreement is also an early stress point between between liberals who campaigned on a fundamental reordering of Washington, and party leaders pushing a strategy they say is their best shot of achieving higher domestic spending in many programs.

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