President Trump has ordered next year’s overall national defense budget to be reduced from a projected total of $733 billion to $700 billion, Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said Friday.
Shanahan said the order to cut the budget by 4.5 percent last week has essentially caused the Pentagon to create two separate budget proposals for fiscal year 2020 based on its higher initial plan and the new lower figure from the White House. The new 2020 number represents a $16 billion cut from the fiscal 2019 authorized level.
The Pentagon is in the final stages of creating an annual spending proposal that must be approved by the president’s Office of Management and Budget and then submitted by the president to Congress in February.
Trump puzzled analysts this month when he mentioned a future $700 billion defense budget in passing. It was not clear whether he was talking about all defense spending or just the Pentagon’s budget, which was $701 billion of the total $733 billion projected for 2020.
The larger total defense budget includes spending on line items such as the nuclear arsenal and law enforcement.
Shanahan confirmed during an appearance at the Military Reporters and Editors conference Friday that the president was indeed talking about a much smaller total national defense budget.
Analysts said a $700 billion total defense budget would be about a 4.5 percent cut to planned spending when inflation is factored, and could make it difficult for the Pentagon to carry out its plans to modernize following an infusion of spending over the past two years.
The cut would track with Trump’s newly announced plan, called the ‘nickel plan,’ that aims to cut 5 percent from all areas of federal spending.