US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis testifies before the House Armed Services Committee. Photo: Reuters/Joshua Roberts

A spending deal that Congress was close to passing on Thursday would reportedly break through existing budget caps and set total defense funding at about US$1.42 trillion for fiscal years 2018 and 2019.

Under the proposed two-year deal, the Pentagon would receive about US$700 billion this year and US$716 billion in 2019. Defense Secretary James Mattis said earlier this week that he would be “very happy with US$700 [billion] for this year, and US$716 [billion] for next.”

Analysts say the big defense outlay reflects a bipartisan consensus that the US needs to bolster its military against what it perceives as a growing threat from Russia and China.

The Pentagon issued a 2018 Nuclear Posture Review on Friday which continues earlier Obama administration efforts to modernize the US nuclear arsenal. The document focuses on creating new nuke deterrents to Russia and China, while addressing North Korean and Iranian nuclear ambitions.

US military planners also rolled out a National Defense Strategy on January 19 that focuses on Russia and China as potential adversaries while taking an emphasis off of fighting Islamic radicals like ISIS.

The first new national defense strategy in a decade noted that the US military’s edge over Russia and China is “eroding,” putting the focus squarely on a return to great-power competition.

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