Cheney Blasts Trump Desire That Allies Pay More for U.S. Troops

(Bloomberg) -- A top Republican blasted the Trump administration’s potential demand that countries pay the full cost of hosting U.S. troops and then some, saying it’s a “wrongheaded” move that would jeopardize both national security and relationships with allies.

“It would be absolutely devastating,” Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, who heads the House Republican Conference and serves on the Armed Services Committee, said Sunday on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Cheney was responding to a Bloomberg News report on Friday that the administration is developing so-called “cost plus 50” plans to force countries to pay the full price of American soldiers deployed on their soil, plus an additional 50 percent or more for the privilege. Nations hosting American forces could see their tab climb five to six times their current costs.

Cheney Blasts Trump Desire That Allies Pay More for U.S. Troops

“We benefit tremendously” by stationing soldiers in South Korea, Japan, Germany and other countries, Cheney said. “The notion that we are now going to somehow charge them ‘cost plus 50’ is really -- it’s wrongheaded, and it would be devastating to the security of the nation and our allies.”

Trump’s planned proposal is in line with his efforts to encourage U.S. allies to boost their defense spending. But it’s stoked concerns among diplomats and security experts who fear any “cost plus 50” demand would be an affront to allies in Asia and Europe who already question the depth of Trump’s commitment to them.

Cheney vowed to oppose the move in Congress. Asked whether fellow Republicans would join her in rejecting the plan, given their tendency to not buck the president on most matters, she said politicians must be aware of the security dividends the U.S. gets from having troops stationed abroad.

“It’s going to be very important for us to make sure that people understand the danger that that will do to our relationships and to our fundamental security,” Cheney said.

The U.S. has been able to protect its security “because we’ve been able to work with countries,” Cheney said. “And we should not look at this as though somehow we need to charge them rent or for the privilege of having our forces there, because that does us a huge benefit as well.”

©2019 Bloomberg L.P.