President Trump will request a $716 billion defense budget for fiscal 2019 that could provide a significant hike in funding for the military and could kick off his long-promised buildup, according to reports.
The top-line figure, first reported by the Washington Post and confirmed by others, is part of the president’s planned budget request to Congress, which is set to be released next month. The White House spending requests are taken into account as lawmakers on Capitol Hill work through the year to write a final defense budget.
Trump has promised a historic military buildup since he was a candidate and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis had said the Pentagon wanted about 5-7 percent growth in the coming year’s budget.
This request would provide about a 7 percent boost over the president’s $668 billion request for the current year’s defense budget, which has Congress has still not finished.
Congress has passed a $700 billion National Defense Authorization Act, but without a plan to boost budget caps for fiscal 2017, the Defense Department will receive far less than that number.
The $716 billion number includes base Pentagon funding, spending on the nation's nuclear arsenal, and the overseas contingency account, which is not subject to caps.
The Post and other news organizations cited U.S. officials for the number, and said the figure has been circulating at the Pentagon and Capitol Hill.
"We have nothing to provide prior to the DOD FY19 budget roll out,” said Christopher Sherwood, a Department of Defense spokesman.
Analysts say that increase is needed to begin moving toward Trump’s vision of the military, which he has said includes expensive initiatives such as a larger Navy fleet and a bigger Army.