President Trump will ask all secretaries in his Cabinet on Wednesday to reduce their spending by five percent for fiscal year 2020, as the administration announced the federal budget deficit has surged to its highest level in six years.
“I have a Cabinet meeting in a little while and we are going to ask every secretary to cut five percent for next year,” Trump told reporters in the Oval Office ahead of his full Cabinet meeting slated for Wednesday afternoon.
The president mentioned the administration’s move to direct $716 billion for two years to “rebuild” the military. Trump signed the bill, named after late Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., in August, which boosted military pay by 2.6 percent—the largest hike in nine years.
“We have repurchased and purchased jets, missiles, rockets, all forms of military equipment—we are in the process of rebuilding,” Trump said.
Last month, Trump signed a $854 billion spending bill to keep the federal government open through Dec. 7, averting a government shutdown in the weeks leading up to the November midterm elections. But the president said he gave “waste money” to Democrats to get the plan approved by the House and Senate.
“I had to give Democrats what I call waste money—things I would have never approved, but we had to do that to get the votes, because we don’t have the votes to do it without them,” Trump said, adding that Republicans need to see success in the midterms next month.
The president’s announcement comes days after the Treasury Department announced that the federal budget deficit rose to $779 billion in fiscal 2018—that’s $113 billion more than fiscal 2017. The deficit, according to Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, was largely caused by growth in government spending.
“Going forward, the President’s economic policies that have stimulated strong economic growth, combined with proposals to cut wasteful spending, will lead America toward a sustainable financial path,” Mnuchin said.
Critics have blamed the deficit hike on the president’s $1.5 trillion in tax cuts over the next decade.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.