President Donald Trump promoted his call for a 10 percent increase in defense spending aboard the deck of USS Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier, the most expensive ship ever constructed, in Newport News, Virginia.
The president asserted that Congress must lift the sequester spending caps to allow for an influx of funding to bolster the military.
On March 2, Trump arrived in Newport News to deliver his speech aboard the aircraft carrier, a nuclear-powered vessel that cost $13 billion to build. The president stated before an audience of sailors that his budget proposal was to inject $54 billion into defense spending.
"After years of endless budget cuts that have impaired our defenses, I am calling for one of the largest defense spending increases in history," Trump said, according to the Washington Examiner. "And by eliminating the sequester and the uncertainty it creates, we will make it easier for the Navy to plan for the future and thus, to control costs and get the deals for the taxpayer, which of course, is very important."
In a poetic flourish, the president stated that if defense spending is increased, "American ships will sail the seas. American planes will soar the skies. American workers will build our fleets."
The Trump administration's proposal to increase defense spending by 10 percent would exceed the sequester caps in place that limit how much of the budget is allocated to the military.
The sequester went into effect in 2013 under the Budget Control Act after the Obama administration and GOP lawmakers could not come to an agreement on federal spending cuts. The caps were placed evenly on both defense and domestic discretionary spending and had been intended as a deterrent for both the executive and legislative branches not striking a deal, according to The Washington Post.
On Feb. 28, Trump had called for an end to the sequester during his first address before a joint session of Congress.
"I am sending Congress a budget that rebuilds the military, eliminates the defense sequester and calls for one of the largest increases in national defense spending in American history," Trump said, according to CNN.
Aboard the USS Gerald R. Ford, Trump repeated his call for Congress to lift the sequester spending caps.
"On Tuesday in my address... I asked Congress to eliminate the defense sequester, and to support my request for a great rebuilding of the United States military and the United States Navy," Trump said.
Lifting the sequester would require 60 votes in the Senate, meaning the Trump administration would need the support of Democrats to enact its defense budget proposal. In 2013, former President Barack Obama had delivered a speech in Newport News calling for Congress to compromise to avoid the sequester, but House Republicans declined.
While the Gerald R. Ford is the most advanced vessel in the U.S. Navy, it has also been mired in technical difficulties, running two years behind schedule. The state-of-the-art aircraft carrier was originally scheduled to set sail in 2014, but remains in the trial stage.