Defense lobbyists urge 'stable growth' in spending

By Tony Bertuca  
November 8, 2018 at 3:23 PM

A large lobbying arm of the defense industry is posturing itself to oppose planned cuts to defense spending directed by the Trump administration and favored by some newly empowered Democrats.

The Aerospace Industries Association released a statement today calling on lawmakers to not "backtrack on military investment." 

"We urge the president and the Congress to provide steady and stable growth in defense spending in the fiscal year 2020 budget request and beyond," AIA said. "The Pentagon's 2018 National Defense Strategy requires armed forces that are large and capable enough to meet multiple threats in multiple environments. To achieve this, we must continue to invest in the most effective technology and weapons we can provide."

AIA's call to protect military spending comes as the Trump administration has ordered the Pentagon to begin planning for a total defense topline of $700 billion in fiscal year 2020, about $33 billion less than the department had planned for and $16 billion less than FY-19. The cuts are intended to help the federal government contain record deficits.

Additionally, Democrats on Tuesday seized a majority in the House for the first time since 2010. Some senior party leaders, including Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA), who is slated to replace House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry (R-TX), has said he thinks defense spending is too high.  

Noting the "huge strides" in military technology made by American adversaries like China and Russia, AIA said that now is the wrong time to cut defense spending.

"In 2018 and 2019, the administration and Congress have begun to provide the Department of Defense with more resources to modernize and meet these growing threats," AIA said. "As a result, military readiness is improving, and our industry is responding with more innovation and advanced capabilities. But the shortfalls of the last decade cannot be erased in the space of two years, and now the Administration has announced potential reductions in defense investment that could undermine the improvements that are just now materializing."

It remains to be seen which weapons programs would be most impacted by the administration's proposed budget cut, but Deputy Defense Secretary Pat Shanahan said last month DOD could slow the progress of certain modernization programs, like hypersonics.

"In these projects we can either do them or defer them," he said at the time. "There is prioritization we can make."