Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and other top Republicans are blasting President Biden’s defense budget for proposing a modest increase in military spending in contrast to the 16 percent increase the president has proposed for nondefense programs.

McConnell along with Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) and other GOP lawmakers accused Biden of prioritizing “liberal wish list priorities” while “funding for America’s military is neglected.”

The Republican senators warned that Biden’s defense budget won’t keep pace with China’s as it “aspires to overtake America as the world’s dominant superpower.”

“Over the past decade, China’s defense spending has increased by $200 billion while America’s decreased by $400 billion. China’s military investments match its desire to out-compete America and hold our military forces at risk,” they wrote. “President Biden’s defense spending cut doesn’t even keep up with inflation.”

Biden has proposed a hearty 16 percent increase in nondefense spending by mapping out a $769 billion nondefense budget that represents a $105 billion increase over current levels.

He would increase the defense budget 1.7 percent to $753 billion, an increase of $12.3 billion.

“If President Biden’s support for America’s military matched his zeal for spending at home, China would get nowhere close to overtaking us,” the Republican senators wrote. “President Biden’s budget proposal cuts defense spending, sending a terrible signal not only to our adversaries in Beijing and Moscow, but also to our allies and partners.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham (S.C.), the ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, and Sen. Richard Shelby (Ala.), the vice chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, also signed the letter.

Senate Republican aides have warned that if Biden’s defense spending proposal fell short of what Republicans wanted, it would imperil the chances of passing a bipartisan bill to improve U.S. competitiveness with China and address what some policymakers see as a growing economic and military threat.

The GOP senators on Friday said any bipartisan legislation addressing China that Senate Majority Leader Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) wants to bring to the floor will be undercut by Biden’s defense proposal.

“We’re ready to work through regular order to develop additional bipartisan legislation to address China. But that process can’t work if the administration insists on budget cuts for the most important tool in our toolbox,” the senators wrote.

At the same time, liberals in both chambers are raising red flags over what they see as too much defense spending in the Biden budget.

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) said Friday he has “serious concerns” about the $753 billion request for what he called “the bloated Pentagon.”

“At a time when the U.S. already spends more on the military than the next 12 nations combined, it is time for us to take a serious look at the massive cost overruns, the waste and fraud that currently exist at the Pentagon,” he said in a statement.

In the House, liberal Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said the $12.3 billion defense spending increase is “far too much” given how much the Pentagon’s budget has grown in recent years.

In a statement, he argued that increased spending on the Pentagon “takes away from funding that could be spent on other people-centric policies, like health care, education and housing.” 

Tags Appropriations Bernie Sanders Budget Charles Schumer Defense spending James Inhofe Joe Biden Lindsey Graham Marco Rubio Mark Pocan Mitch McConnell Richard Shelby

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