President Trump used his State of the Union speech Tuesday to urge Congress to end caps on defense spending so the U.S. can modernize its nuclear arsenal.
The increased spending and improved nuclear weapons are needed to counter rogue regimes, terror groups and countries such as China and Russia, Trump said in his address to a joint session of Congress.
“In confronting these horrible dangers, we know that weakness is the surest path to conflict, and unmatched power is the surest means of our true and great defense,” he said.
The president has promised a historic military buildup and his administration is wrapping up the Nuclear Posture Review, a new strategy to be unveiled this week for the country’s missiles, nuclear bombers, and nuclear submarines.
But the plans for a military buildup are tangled up in budget gridlock on Capitol Hill, where Congress is nearly four months late in passing Trump’s first annual defense spending bill.
Lawmakers have also been unable to strike an agreement to raise spending caps for defense imposed by the Budget Control Act. The caps would slash $54 billion from Trump’s requested 2018 defense budget. If the limit is broken with additional spending, it will trigger the across-the-board cuts known as sequestration.
“For this reason, I am asking the Congress to end the dangerous defense sequester and fully fund our great military,” Trump said.
Meanwhile, modernization of the nuclear arsenal is expected to cost more than $1 trillion over the next 30 years. The price tag will surely create a new funding challenge for lawmakers, who are already struggling with calls to modernize the country’s conventional military forces and add troops.
“As part of our defense, we must modernize and rebuild our nuclear arsenal, hopefully never having to use it, but making it so strong and so powerful that it will deter any acts of aggression by any other nation or anyone else,” Trump said. “Perhaps someday in the future there will be a magical moment when the countries of the world will get together to eliminate their nuclear weapons. Unfortunately, we are not there yet, sadly.”