By Kristina Wong - 03/05/14 03:09 PM EST
China announced it would increase military spending by 12.2 percent this year from last, the same week the Pentagon announced its budget request for 2015 was staying flat for a third year, at $496 billion.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) raised the statistic at a hearing on the budget on Wednesday, and criticized the administration for shrinking defense budgets at a time when China was becoming more aggressive.
Meanwhile, the 2015 U.S. defense budget request would leave spending unchanged from fiscal years 2013 and 2014, and more than $30 billion below defense funding for years 2010, 2011, and 2012, according to Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.) at the hearing.
Lawmakers across the aisle lamented the shrinking defense budget but disagreed on how to raise it.
Administration officials pushed for lawmakers to overturn congressionally-imposed defense budget cuts known as sequestration, while Republicans pushed for the administration to lower spending on entitlements.
“Some in this town have accepted that gutting our military is necessary to rein in our growing debt. They couldn’t be more wrong," said Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.). “Defense spending isn’t what’s driving our debt crisis. Runaway entitlement spending is the real driver of our exploding national debt."