Dem Takeover of House Could End Trump Defense Buildup

Dem Takeover of House Could End Trump Defense Buildup
AP Photo/J. Scott Applewhite

It will take time to sort out all the implications of Tuesday's election results, but one consequence is already clear. Modernization and expansion of the U.S. military is not going to progress at the pace that defense hawks had hoped. The Democrats who took control of the House of Representatives are more favorably disposed to domestic spending than defense spending, and in addition they reflect the prevailing pattern among progressives since the Vietnam War years of preferring to spend defense dollars on people and readiness rather than weapons.

Thus, the most likely outcome going forward is that military budgets will flat-line for the remainder of the Trump presidency, with the composition of defense spending shifting in ways not congenial to weapons makers. That trend was already becoming evident before the election. The Office of Management and Budget in October directed the Pentagon to prepare a fiscal 2020 request 2% below current levels, and 5% below what had been planned. The defense department then signaled modernization (new technology) would be the main source of savings.

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