Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Jack Reed (D-RI) acknowledged that the request is “among the largest in history,” but said it reflected the “reality of the national security challenges we face.”
“With this strong budget, President Biden is prioritizing the safety and well-being of the American people. Some will inevitably say the topline is too much, while others will claim it is not enough. I say America’s defense budget should be guided by our values, needs, and national security strategy,” he said.
However, Republican defense hawks say the defense budget needs to be higher due to inflation under the Biden administration.
The top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee Roger Wicker (R-MS) called the defense budget request “woefully inadequate and disappointing.”
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“The President’s defense budget is woefully inadequate and disappointing. It does not even resource his own National Defense Strategy to protect our country from growing threats around the world. This defense budget is a serious indication of President Biden’s failure to prioritize national security,” he said in a statement.
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) also slammed the defense budget.
“A budget that proposes to increase non-defense spending at more than twice the rate of defense is absurd. The president’s incredibly misplaced priorities send all the wrong messages to our adversaries,” he said in a statement.
Rep. Claudia Tenney (R-NY) called the defense portion an effective “cut,” due to inflation.
“The defense portion of the budget proposed by Biden is effectively a cut as the 3.2% increase doesn’t keep pace with inflation and the cost to refill depleted supplies around the world. Our greatest adversaries, China and Russia, continue to ramp up military expenditures, which pose a grave threat to U.S. security at home and abroad,” she said in a statement.
The administration did not include a full breakdown of what that money would be used for. A detailed breakdown will be released on March 13.
However, the Biden administration did highlight funding for key priorities.
The request would include a pay increase for the military and Department of Defense civilian employees of 5.2 percent, the largest increase since 2002 amid record inflation.
It would also provide $9.1 billion for its Pacific Deterrence Initiative to enhance the U.S. military presence in the Indo-Pacific in the face of an increasingly aggressive China, as well as $6 billion to support NATO and Ukraine.
The final defense budget will likely be higher as it does not yet factor in additional emergency war funding for Ukraine, which will likely be requested by the administration and welcomed by Republicans and Democrats alike.
William Hartung, a senior research fellow at the non-interventionist think-tank Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, wrote in a piece Thursday:
Adding in likely emergency military aid packages for Ukraine later this year plus the potential tens of billions of dollars in Congressional add-ons could push total spending for national defense to as much as $950 billion or more for FY 2024.
“The result could be the highest military budget since World War II, far higher than at the peaks of the Korean or Vietnam Wars or the height of the Cold War,” he said.