Group of moderate Democrats lobbying against defense spending cuts
A group of moderate Democrats is sounding the alarm on potential cuts to defense spending as Republicans grapple with the possibility of Pentagon budget slashes that were part of a deal to secure Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) the gavel last week.
McCarthy agreed to cap new discretionary spending at 2022 levels in a deal with a group of hard-line conservatives that were blocking him from becoming Speaker. But lawmakers now warn that the agreement could lead to a significant cut — possibly $70 billion — to defense spending.
“Indiscriminate cuts to the defense budget are a threat to our national security,” Rep. Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), a part of the Blue Dog Coalition — a group of fiscally conservative Democrats — said in a statement. “A $75 billion decrease would hamper our ability to assist Ukraine and fly in the face of the tradition of bipartisan defense consensus and supporting freedom and democracy in conjunction with our allies.”
Lawmakers budgeted $780 billion for defense in 2022. In 2023, they allocated $850 billion.
A group of 12 Blue Dog members, including Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), a Marine veteran, sent a letter to McCarthy urging him to not allow slashed to the defense budget.
“A $75 billion dollar cut to the defense budget would imperil our national security at a time in which the United States confronts an unprecedented array of global challenges; including an increasingly powerful and authoritarian China determined to supplant the U.S. as the dominant global political, economic, and military power, an aggressive Russia that threatens U.S. interests and which continues its unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine, and rogue states North Korea and Iran that continue to develop nuclear weapons capabilities,” the lawmakers wrote to McCarthy.
Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-Texas), a McCarthy supporter, was the lone Republican vote on a House rules package this week after raising concerns about the potential cuts to defense spending.
But other Republicans have discounted the idea that defense spending may take a hit. Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas) called claims of possible budget cuts “garbage.” It has been floated that the budget cuts could come from anywhere in the budget and not specifically defense, leading to cuts to domestic spending programs, which Democrats are likely to balk at.
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