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White House to Propose $54 Billion Defense Spending Increase

The White House is expected to release a 'budget blueprint' Monday afternoon, adding $54 billion in defense and security funding while cutting that amount from 'lower priority programs' across government agencies. 'We're going to do more with less,' President Trump said Monday of the cuts to other departments. The budget blueprint marks the first step in what will be a lengthy negotiations process between the White House and Capitol Hill, with multiple rounds of discussions expected on the budget's specifics. Don't forget to tune in to MSNBC all day for updates and analysis.
Image: Trump addresses CPAC in Oxon Hill, Maryland
U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) in Oxon Hill, Maryland, U.S. February 24, 2017. REUTERS/Jonathan ErnstJONATHAN ERNST / Reuters

President Trump will propose adding $54 billion in defense and security funding while cutting that amount from "lower-priority programs" across government agencies, White House officials said Monday.

"We're going to do more with less," President Trump said Monday of his "historic increase in defense spending."

White House Budget Director Mick Mulvaney emphasized that the "budget blueprint" details are a framework with a full budget expected in May.

Mulvaney said, however, that the budget blueprint is "the president's policies as reflected in top-line discretionary spending."

"To that end, it is a true America-first budget. It will show the president is keeping his promises and doing exactly what he said he was going to do when he ran for office," Mulvaney said during a news conference.

In a call with reporters Monday morning, an Office of Management and Budget official previewed the budget reductions across agencies, saying that they included a "large reduction in foreign aid." The aid reduction, in tandem with the 10 percent increase in defense spending, echoes Trump's campaign promise.

The "budget blueprint marks" the first step in what could be a lengthy negotiations process between the White House and Capitol Hill, with multiple rounds of discussions on the budget's specifics. The spending priorities come just before the president heads to Capitol Hill on Tuesday evening to deliver a joint session speech to Congress.

The president, both in office and on the campaign trail, has preached a "peace through strength" strategy that involves military build up with the goal of deterrence. In a meeting with America's governors Monday morning, Trump stressed the need to start winning wars again, bemoaning the fact that the United States' military prowess is no longer, in his mind, what it used to be.

"We either have to win, or don't fight at all," he said.

The OMB official said the reduction in aid spending — which is roughly 1 percent of the budget — is a signal to the rest of the world that the United States expects the rest of the world to "step up" its fiscal commitment.

Asked if the Environmental Protection Agency, which drew Trump's ire during the campaign, would feel the brunt of the cuts, the official declined to comment on specifics.

Senior administration officials told NBC News prior to Monday's call that Medicare, Social Security, and Medicaid will be protected in this budget outline. But with all eyes on healthcare, the budget's details will be telling. In a meeting with governors Monday morning, President Trump again promised to repeal and replace President Barack Obama's signature healthcare law.

"We have come up with a solution that really, really, I think, very good," the president said on Monday of the not yet-released plan.

Trump, who also on Monday morning held a listening session with health insurance executives, said a more political route to healthcare replacement would be to "let Obamacare totally implode."

However, he stressed the American people are owed a fix.

"We must work together to save Americans from Obamacare," he said.

The White House-organized budget background call came after the president himself demanded sources be named in news reports. During a Friday address to the Conservative Political Action Committee, Trump said reporters "shouldn't be allowed to use sources unless they use somebody's name. Let their name be put out there."

Asked why the call was on background, officials had no response but reiterated that this was a background briefing.