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Trump wants $59 billion for laser weapons, AI, and super fast missiles

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WASHINGTON (CIRCA) -- The Trump administration has proposed a massive $750 billion defense budget, and it wants $59 billion to go toward research of special futuristic weapons.

The money would go toward the research and development of hyper-sonic missiles, artificial intelligence, drones and directed energy weapons (lasers and microwaves). It's all part of the Office of Management and Budget's 2020 proposal for Congress, which increases defense spending, but cuts $2.3 trillion in other federal programs over 10 years.

"And to be clear, this is not funding for endless wars," said Russell Vought, OMB's acting director, during a White House press conference on Monday. "This is for research and development and procurement to fund the most awe-inspiring military the world has ever known."

While the U.S. drastically outspends its adversaries militarily, so-called "near-peer" countries have made substantial investments in high-tech weaponry once exclusive to the American arsenal.

Russia, for example, has invested in the Avangard, a hyper-sonic missile that travels 20 times the speed of sound and is allegedly capable of avoiding U.S. defense systems. Russian President Vladimir Putin claimed last year that it would be ready for deployment sometime this year. The Government Accountability Office warned in a report last October that U.S. defense systems may not be fully capable of intercepting threats from hyper-sonic missiles.

China has also made advances in hyper-sonics, though it has also made rapid progress in artificial intelligence and drone technology. Chinese navy researchers are reportedly working on unmanned submarines that could be used to target aircraft carriers, which would pose a severe threat to U.S. operations in the Pacific. China has also reportedly explored using swarms of drones to counter U.S. forces.

While the administration claims the additional funding would keep the U.S. ahead militarily, the budget proposal's increase in funding and cuts in federal programs has already received criticism.

"At a time when the U.S. already spends more on the military than the next 10 countries combined, Trump is proposing an $861 billion increase in base defense spending over 10 years," said Sen. Bernie Sanders in a tweet responding to the budget proposal on Monday. "For the same cost, we could make public colleges and universities tuition-free for a decade."

Trump's defense spending proposal is simply that, a proposal. It will be Congress that decides the final budget, and the Trump administration's first step will be convincing a Democrat-led House of Representatives to sign off on the idea.

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