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White House to propose boosting defense spending

By Andrew Taylor and Julie Pace

Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — The White House will propose boosting defense spending and slashing funding for longtime Republican targets like the Environmental Protection Agency in a set of marching orders to agencies as it prepares its budget for the upcoming fiscal year.

President Donald Trump’s proposal for the 2018 budget year, which will be sent to agencies Monday, won’t make significant changes to Social Security or Medicare, according to an administration official.

The official, as well as Capitol Hill aides, confirmed details of the upcoming blueprint on the condition of anonymity to discuss nonpublic information and a sensitive process.

Trump’s first major fiscal marker will land in the agencies one day before his first address to a joint session of Congress. For Trump, the primetime speech is an opportunity to refocus his young presidency on the core economic issues that were a centerpiece of his White House run.

The Pentagon is due for a huge boost, as Trump promised during the campaign. But many nondefense agencies and foreign aid programs are facing cuts, including at the State Department. The specific numbers aren’t final and agencies will have a chance to argue against the cuts as part of a longstanding tradition at the budget office.

Trump is expected to release his final budget proposal in mid-March.

The president previewed a boost in military spending during a speech Friday to conservative activists, pledging “one of the greatest build-ups in American history.”