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Mattis: "No evidence" Putin wants good relations with U.S.

Alex Brandon / AP

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told the House Armed Services Committee Monday evening he sees "no evidence Mr. Putin wants a positive relationship" with the U.S., but added he thinks North Korea is the "most urgent and dangerous threat to peace and security," putting it past Russia.

Mattis also critiqued the defense budget, noting he is "shocked" by the low level of U.S. military preparedness. Trump's proposal aims to remedy that by boosting defense spending, but not by as much as many hawks would like:

  • Trump vs. Obama: Trump's proposal calls for $603 billion for the DOD, whereas Obama's called for $584 billion — that is to say "it's basically the Obama approach with a little bit more, but not much," as committee chairman Mac Thornberry put it.
  • That's not enough for defense hawks. They want another $37 billion. John McCain said, the "request is inadequate to the challenges we face" and "illegal under current law" — that's because the 2011 Budget Control Act which is still in place, and means his proposal is $54 billion over budget caps, per the Washington Examiner.

There are even cuts affecting the military: The proposal would lead to military base closures in 2021, which is likely to upset lawmakers, according to The Hill. Mattis said this could generate $2 billion or more in yearly savings.

What else Mattis said:

  • Although Korea is the most dangerous threat to the U.S., he's confident the U.S. can defend itself.
  • The situation in Qatar is "not tidy" but "moving in the right direction."
  • "ISIS and other terrorist organizations represent a clear and present danger."
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