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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.

President Donald Trump's 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.

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 pre-eminence 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. "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 over where the federal government spends public funds.

Members of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, including Reps. Pramila Jayapal, D-Wash., Ro Khanna, D-Calif., and Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., have called on the budget to devote as much funding to domestic programs as it does to the defense budget, either through boosted funding on social programs or with cuts to defense.

Omar pointed out in a statement that the U.S. already spends more on defense than the next seven countries combined. She also said the military budget funds "endless wars that damage our reputation in the world and do not make us any safer."

"Democrats need to speak to our vision instead of beginning with a compromise position," Khanna said. "We don't have to increase military funding in our initial offer ... This goes to the heart of the democratic willingness and boldness to challenge military interventionism abroad."

America's military spending steadily climbed throughout President George W. Bush's administration, particularly after "the surge" in 2007 dramatically increased the number of troops in Iraq.

Military spending fell gradually from 2010 to 2015, as President Barack Obama sought to wind down the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan amid the last recession.

But defense spending rose again in 2016, the last year of the Obama administration, and has increased every year since. Overall, military spending has already increased from $586 billion in 2015 to $716 billion in 2019.

Earlier this year, the Congressional Budget Office projected the U.S. would spend more than $7 trillion on defense over the next decade, which is in line with both the White House's and House Democrats' budget plans.

A Section on 04/19/2019

Print Headline: Defense budget continues rising

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