what was said
“Last year, we secured a historic $700 billion to rebuild our military. And now the National Defense Authorization Act paves the way for 1,700 — listen to this now. So we’ve been trying to get money. They never gave us money for the military for years and years. And it was depleted. We got $700 billion. And next year, already approved, we have $716 billion to give you the finest planes and ships and tanks and missiles anywhere on earth.”
— President Trump, speaking to Army soldiers at Fort Drum, N.Y., on Monday
Mr. Trump’s claim is wrong on two fronts: that the approved funding levels are “historic” and that the military “never” had money “for years and years.” It’s also not clear what he was referring to when he said the act “paves the way for 1,700.”
The John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2019, which Mr. Trump signed on Monday, provides $716 billion for the Pentagon’s basic operations and war spending, as well as the Department of Energy’s national security programs.
That’s not the largest military budget in recent history, let alone all of American history. Even if inflation is not taken into account, President Barack Obama signed a $726 billion National Defense Authorization Act for the 2011 fiscal year.
Adjusted for inflation, Congress authorized more money for the Pentagon every fiscal year between 2007 and 2012, during the peak of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
Mr. Trump may have been referring to the sequester, in which Congress placed limits on military spending in 2011; they were effectively lifted in February. But his statement — that the Pentagon “never” received money during that time — is patently wrong. As The New York Times has previously reported:
The United States’ military spending has consistently outstripped the rest of the world’s. In fact, it has been higher than the next seven to 11 countries combined since 2012, according to data from the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute.
After the signing of the bill, Mr. Trump made several more inaccurate claims at a fund-raiser in Utica, N.Y.
Source: Senate Armed Forces Committee, Pentagon comptroller, Congressional Research Service