GOP rep says Biden’s defense budget ‘falls short,’ citing China threat

Greg Nash

Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) criticized the Biden administration’s proposed defense budget, which increased spending by 3 percent, arguing more investment is needed to challenge the growing threat from China.

“[The budget] falls far short of what we need to do to make sure we’re countering China,” he said on Thursday at The Hill’s The Future of Defense event.

Biden’s defense budget has come under fire from a number of Republicans, who are also calling for overall cuts in government spending but have not released their own budget proposal.

The Chinese government raised its defense spending by 7 percent this year.

“We know [China] is not transparent about how much they spend and it’s much, much, more than 7 percent, so we’re even falling behind on what the Chinese say they are spending,” Wittman said.

“The threat is now,” Wittman said, referring to China. “There is no question that the threat is at our doorstep.”

However, Air Force Secretary Frank Kendall said he is OK with the Biden administration’s reduced military budget proposal.

“I’m very comfortable with the level of budget we have,” Kendall told The Hill’s Editor-in-Chief Bob Cusack. 

The Air Force budget will increase by about 5 percent in the proposed budget, and the Space Force’s by slightly more, he said.

Thursday’s event was sponsored by GE Aerospace.

Sen. Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.) did not directly endorse or criticize the proposed spending levels when asked, but said that certain areas of the military do need more funding.

The total fiscal 2024 defense budget request comes out to $842 billion, $69 billion more than the $773 billion sought for this year.

Wittman’s criticisms echo those of some Republicans who believe more funding is key to rival a rising Chinese military.

“The President’s defense budget is woefully inadequate and disappointing,” Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) said in a statement earlier this month. “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,”

However, other Republicans are calling for defense cuts, targeting so-called woke programs like those aimed at diversifying recruitment and increasing use of alternative fuels.

The GOP proposal to cap discretionary spending at 2022 levels, part of the package of rules agreed to by Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), would reduce defense spending by $75 billion if applied evenly across the board.

“We’re going to cut money that’s being spent on wokeism, we’re going to cut legacy programs, we’re going to cut a lot of waste,” Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) told The Hill last month.

Tags Frank Kendall Joe Biden Rob Wittman Tammy Duckworth

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