photo - DoD
By Lisa Ferdinando DoD News, Defense Media Activity
WASHINGTON, March 23, 2018 —
The $1.3 trillion spending bill President Donald J. Trump signed today includes the largest military budget in history, reversing years of decline and unpredictable funding, Defense Secretary James N. Mattis said at the White House.
“Together, we are going to make our military stronger than ever,” Mattis said in a news conference today, flanked by Trump, Vice President Mike Pence, Commerce Secretary Wilbur L. Ross, and Department of Homeland Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen.
“We in the military are humbled and grateful to the American people for their sacrifices on behalf of this funding,” Mattis said. “Now it's our responsibility in the military to spend every dollar wisely in order to keep the trust and the confidence of the American people and the Congress.”
Trump hailed the spending measure, saying it funds the strongest military in the world, as well as troop increases and the largest pay raise in more than a decade for service members.
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“My highest duty is to keep America safe. Nothing more important,” Trump said.
The spending bill also includes, Trump explained, funding for the “final fight in certain areas,” pointing to the liberation of nearly all of the territory once held by the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria.
The bill, which Congress passed hours earlier, funds the government for fiscal year 2018 and includes $700 billion for defense spending.
Trump said that defense funding contained in the bill is an increase of more than $60 billion from last year. It funds the addition of critically needed ships, planes, helicopters, tanks and submarines, he pointed out.
“Our military is very depleted, but it's rapidly getting better. And in a short period of time it will be stronger than it has ever been,” Trump said.
(Follow Lisa Ferdinando on Twitter: @FerdinandoDoD)