Copies of Trump's budget proposal from last year. Photo: Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

The Trump administration will release a budget proposal on Monday that calls for $750 billion in defense spending next year — a figure that will be boosted by using a pot of defense money that has often been criticized as a slush fund, two senior administration officials tell Axios.

Why it matters: The proposal would give President Trump the defense increase he wants, but remember that this is just the administration's opening ask to Congress — which is sure to go its own way, particularly with a Democratic House. But the administration will try to pressure the Democrats by not assuming there will be a budget deal with more money.

Between the lines: This will be the first budget under Trump that won't assume the spending caps under a 2011 budget law will be lifted later through a deal with Congress. That's why the administration tried to get to Trump's defense number using a budget tactic that assumes the spending limits will stay in place.

  • Trump administration officials argue this strategy will help them gain leverage over House Democrats because there won't be any reason for Republicans to break the spending caps to get what they want.
  • In the past, Democrats have offered more military spending in exchange for higher domestic spending as an incentive to break the spending limits.

Details: The budget outline will propose a total of $750 billion in defense spending, an increase over $716 billion last year.

The catch: The White House will have to decide whether to negotiate with Congress if it ignores the administration's military funding strategy — which it probably will.

The bottom line: White House budget proposals are always just starter suggestions to Congress, which will write its own budget and spending bills. But the Trump administration is sending strong signals about how it will deal with Democrats, and how far it's willing to break with past Republican policies to gain the leverage it wants.

Go deeper

Updated 7 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 12,859,834 — Total deaths: 567,123 — Total recoveries — 7,062,085Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 7 p.m. ET: 3,297,501— Total deaths: 135,155 — Total recoveries: 1,006,326 — Total tested: 40,282,176Map.
  3. States: Florida smashes single-day record for new coronavirus cases with over 15,000 — NYC reports zero coronavirus deaths for first time since pandemic hit.
  4. Public health: Ex-FDA chief projects "apex" of South's coronavirus curve in 2-3 weeks — Coronavirus testing czar: Lockdowns in hotspots "should be on the table"
  5. Education: Betsy DeVos says schools that don't reopen shouldn't get federal funds — Pelosi accuses Trump of "messing with the health of our children."

Scoop: How the White House is trying to trap leakers

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

President Trump's chief of staff, Mark Meadows, has told several White House staffers he's fed specific nuggets of information to suspected leakers to see if they pass them on to reporters — a trap that would confirm his suspicions. "Meadows told me he was doing that," said one former White House official. "I don't know if it ever worked."

Why it matters: This hunt for leakers has put some White House staffers on edge, with multiple officials telling Axios that Meadows has been unusually vocal about his tactics. So far, he's caught only one person, for a minor leak.

11 GOP congressional nominees support QAnon conspiracy

Lauren Boebert posing in her restaurant in Rifle, Colorado, on April 24. Photo: Emily Kask/AFP

At least 11 Republican congressional nominees have publicly supported or defended the QAnon conspiracy theory movement or some of its tenets — and more aligned with the movement may still find a way onto ballots this year.

Why it matters: Their progress shows how a fringe online forum built on unsubstantiated claims and flagged as a threat by the FBI is seeking a foothold in the U.S. political mainstream.