While the Pentagon’s base budget request is $ 715 billion, the entire proposal, which includes Department of Energy funding for nuclear activities, stands at $ 753 billion. The budget enacted for fiscal year 2021 was $ 741 billion in total, including $ 704 billion for the Pentagon. Despite the increase from last year, GOP defense hawks have attacked Biden’s proposed budget for the Pentagon for not keeping up with inflation.
An increase in the defense budget is far from certain. The House and Senate must agree on a final defense policy bill, which will likely not happen until later this year. Even so, the NDAA only authorizes and does not award funding. The appropriations committees of the House and the Senate will have to agree to accept the proposal for the increase to become a reality.
The committee approved its version of the defense bill Wednesday night behind closed doors.
Senate Armed Services Chairman Jack Reed had not said how much military spending his committee’s bill would approve before the markup.
Republicans have called for annual defense spending increases of 3-5% above inflation. They criticized the Biden administration for calling for an effectively flat budget, which they said will not help the military modernize to deal with growing threats posed by China.
GOP members of the Armed Services Committee argued the Pentagon was being left behind as Biden and the Democrats sought to increase spending on most other federal agencies. Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) foreshadowed the deal at a subcommittee meeting on Tuesday when he speculated that some Democrats might join the effort.
“They cut defense spending [in] real numbers, ”Sullivan said of the Biden administration’s budget. “We have to change this. It is our oversight responsibility and I hope we can make it a bipartite vote in this committee to send a message. [that we] should not cut the budget of the Ministry of Defense, especially not now. “
But with the committee split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, the GOP’s defense hawks would only need to remove a single Democratic senator to win key votes.
Defense legislation also cannot pass the Senate 50-50 without Republican votes, which gives them significant leverage over the content of any bill, including the inescapable military policy measure.