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Trump budget 'to hike defence spending by 54 billion US dollars'

The White House says President Donald Trump's upcoming budget will propose a whopping 54 billion US dollars (£43 billion) increase in defence spending and impose corresponding cuts to domestic programmes and foreign aid.

White House budget officials outlined the information during a telephone call with reporters.

Mr Trump's defence budget and spending levels for domestic agency operating budgets will be revealed in a partial submission to Congress next month, with proposals on taxes and other programmes coming later.

The approximately 10% increase for the Pentagon would fulfil a Trump campaign promise to build up the military.

One official said there will be a reduction in foreign aid and that most domestic agencies will face cuts.

Tentative proposals for the 2018 budget year that begins on October 1 are being sent to agencies, which will have a chance to propose changes to the cuts as part of a long-standing tradition at the budget office.

President Trump's budget, once finalised and sent to Congress in mid-March, is sure to set off a huge Washington battle.

Democrats and some Republicans are certain to resist the cuts to domestic agencies, and any legislation to implement them would have to overcome a filibuster threat by Senate Democrats.

A government shutdown is a real possibility.

President Trump's budget also will not make significant changes to Social Security or Medicare, according to an administration official.

Mr Trump's first major fiscal marker will land in the agencies one day before his first address to a joint session of Congress.

For President Trump, the prime-time speech is an opportunity to refocus his young presidency on the core economic issues that were a centrepiece of his White House run.

The upcoming submission covers the budget year starting on October 1. But first there is an April 28 deadline to finish up the unfinished spending bills for the ongoing 2017 budget year, which is almost half over - and any stumble or protracted battle could risk a government shutdown then as well.

The March release is also expected to include an immediate infusion of 2017 cash for the Pentagon that is expected to register about 20 billion US dollars (£16 billion) or so and contain the first wave of funding for Mr Trump's promised border wall and other initiatives like hiring immigration agents.

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

AP

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