Senators eye $45 billion boost to Biden defense budget

The Pentagon is seen on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 in Arlington, Va.
Greg Nash
The Pentagon is seen on Wednesday, January 29, 2020 in Arlington, Va.

The Senate Armed Services Committee voted 23-3 to pass its version of the its fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), proposing to boost defense spending by roughly $45 billion over what President Biden requested.

The measure allocates $857.64 billion in fiscal 2023 for national defense, according to a summary of the bill released by the committee. For comparison, the president proposed $813 billion in national defense spending when he unveiled his budget proposal in late March.

Of the bill’s top line, $817.33 billion would go the Pentagon alone, while $29.6 billion would go toward the Department of Energy. A separate $10.6 billion would go toward other defense-related activities outside of the legislation’s jurisdiction.

The bill now heads to the Senate floor, where the full upper chamber will consider the legislation.

The top lines are well above the $802.4 billion that the House Armed Services Committee is poised to consider when it reviews its version of the NDAA next Wednesday.

The House bill’s top line would give the Pentagon $772.5 billion, the Department of Energy $29.5 billion and another $400 million for other defense-related activities outside of the Department of Defense. It doesn’t include an additional $11 billion in national defense spending outside of the committee’s jurisdiction.

Once the House passes its bill, both versions will then be reconciled during the conference committee process into one bill that the House and Senate will have to pass.

Even then, the NDAA is a policy bill that sets funding levels and guides policy, but it does not hold budget power. Therefore, an appropriations bill will still need to be passed.

In a summary of the Senate bill, the committee says it approved the $45 billion boost to “address the effects of inflation and accelerate the implementation of the National Defense Strategy.”

Inflation quickly emerged as a key debate point when Biden released his proposal for national defense spending earlier this year. Republicans have demanded that Biden increase defense spending for fiscal 2023 by 3 to 5 percent above inflation.

The top line also provides additional security assistance to Ukraine, allows for accelerated production of certain munitions, and more funding for additional military construction projects and facilities maintenance.

The Senate bill is named for Sen. James Inhofe (Okla.), the panel’s top Republican, who is retiring from the upper chamber in January. Inhofe was first elected to the Senate in November 1994.

Among the major highlights of the bill is $800 million in fiscal 2023 for the U.S. to provide security assistance to Ukraine through the Ukraine Security Assistance Initiative.

The measure also directs the Pentagon to establish a team to integrate Pentagon efforts to address national security challenges posed by China. It also directs the Defense Department to establish an office to address civilian harm from military operations.

Tags Jim Inhofe Joe Biden

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