House panel approves $25B boost for defense budget

House panel approves $25B boost for defense budget
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The House Armed Services Committee voted Wednesday to add nearly $25 billion to President BidenJoe BidenUN meeting with US, France canceled over scheduling issue Schumer moves to break GOP blockade on Biden's State picks GOP Rep. Cawthorn likens vaccine mandates to 'modern-day segregation' MORE’s proposed defense budget as more than a dozen Democrats sided with Republicans on bulking up Pentagon funding.

The committee voted 42-17 on an amendment from Rep. Mike RogersMichael (Mike) Dennis RogersAfter messy Afghanistan withdrawal, questions remain Congress should control its appetite for legacy programs when increasing defense budget The Pentagon budget is already out of control: Some in Congress want to make it worse MORE (R-Ala.), the ranking member of the panel, to set the fiscal 2022 defense budget at $778 billion — $37 billion more than approved for this year and $25 billion more than Biden asked for next year.

“Most importantly, this amendment ensures we have the resources to counter the growing threat from China and other adversaries,” Rogers said at the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) markup.

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The bulk of the funding in the amendment, $9.8 billion, would go toward procurement, including $4.7 billion more for shipbuilding, $1.7 billion for aircraft and $878 million for combat vehicles.

With the Armed Services Committee split between 31 Democrats and 28 Republicans, the GOP needed just two Democrats to side with them to be successful. In the end, 14 Democrats — including some members with national security backgrounds or in vulnerable districts — agreed with Republicans on the increase.

“Today we need to put forward an authorization that projects strength, is forward thinking, and treats our service members with dignity and respect,” Rep. Elaine LuriaElaine Goodman LuriaGOP ramps up pressure on vulnerable Democrats in spending fight Conservative group targets Spanberger, Luria in new ads ahead of reconciliation bill Virginia races offer an early preview of Democrats' midterm challenges MORE (D-Va.) said. “The president’s budget, I have been saying ever since it was released, that it does not do enough. We needed 3 to 5 percent real growth.”

In addition to Luria, Democratic Reps. Jim LangevinJames (Jim) R. LangevinBipartisan House group introduces legislation to set term limit for key cyber leader House panel approves B boost for defense budget Democratic lawmakers urge DHS to let Afghans stay in US MORE (R.I.), Joe CourtneyJoseph (Joe) D. CourtneyHouse panel approves B boost for defense budget Democrats urge Biden to extend moratorium on student loan payments New Air Force One jets may be a year late, cost more, Pentagon official says MORE (Conn.), Seth MoultonSeth MoultonHow lawmakers aided the Afghan evacuation GOP lawmaker says he did not threaten US Embassy staff in Tajikistan House panel approves B boost for defense budget MORE (Mass.), Anthony BrownAnthony Gregory BrownHouse panel advances 8B defense bill Democrats defeat GOP effort to declare 'lost confidence' in Biden after Afghanistan withdrawal House panel approves B boost for defense budget MORE (Md.), Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Manchin: key energy provision of spending package 'makes no sense' Six moderate Democrats raise concerns about spending bill's energy measures Private donations for Texas border wall surged to M in August MORE (Texas), Mikie SherrillRebecca (Mikie) Michelle SherrillKatie Hill launches effort to protect Democratic majority in House House panel approves B boost for defense budget Democrat unveils bill to allow only House members to serve as Speaker MORE (N.J.), Jared Golden (Maine), Kaiali'i Kahele (Hawaii), Marc VeaseyMarc Allison VeaseyOvernight Energy & Environment — Presented by Climate Power — Manchin: key energy provision of spending package 'makes no sense' Six moderate Democrats raise concerns about spending bill's energy measures House panel approves B boost for defense budget MORE (Texas), Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyHouse passes bill to prevent shutdown and suspend debt limit GOP ramps up pressure on vulnerable Democrats in spending fight Drug companies on verge of sinking longtime Democratic priority MORE (Fla.), Steven HorsfordSteven Alexander HorsfordLIVE COVERAGE: Ways and Means begins Day 2 on .5T package Democrats on key panel offer bill on solar tax incentive House panel approves B boost for defense budget MORE (Nev.), Salud CarbajalSalud CarbajalHouse panel approves B boost for defense budget Biden's corporate tax hike is bad for growth — try a carbon tax instead Capitol riots spark fear of Trump's military powers in final days MORE (Calif.) and Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinHoyer tells Israel removal of Iron Dome funding is 'technical postponement' Katie Hill launches effort to protect Democratic majority in House Biden approval ratings drop in seven key congressional districts: GOP-aligned poll MORE (Mich.) supported the amendment.

The debate over the defense budget has been percolating since Biden released his budget in May, but Wednesday's markup took place amid the backdrop of the chaotic exit from Afghanistan that included the deaths of 13 U.S. service members. Republicans have said they are planning dozens of amendments related to Afghanistan that are expected to be debated later Wednesday.

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Many lawmakers focused on threats emerging from several countries heading into Wednesday's vote, and Republicans had already been complaining for months that Biden’s defense budget request was inadequate in the face of threats from China and Russia.

Biden’s $753 billion defense budget represented a slight bump from the Trump administration’s last defense budget of $740 billion.

But Republicans argued that when accounting for inflation, the proposal would actually be a cut compared with last year. Instead, they have been pushing for a 3 to 5 percent increase above inflation.

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithStumbling plutonium pit project reveals DOE's uphill climb of nuclear modernization Congress should control its appetite for legacy programs when increasing defense budget House panel advances 8B defense bill MORE (D-Wash.) opposed Rogers's amendment, arguing that the “single most important thing that the Defense Department needs to do right now is spend its money wisely.”

“If we give them another $23.9 billion, it takes the pressure off,” Smith said. “Item after item after item, we have spent billions of dollars without getting anything for that money we have spent. That does not make us safer,” he added. 

The House Armed Services Committee’s vote followed the Senate Armed Services Committee similarly approving a $25 billion increase in July.

The NDAA is a policy bill, not a spending bill, meaning even if the final product has a top line of $778 billion, a separate appropriations bill with a matching dollar figure would also have to pass for the increase to become a reality.

Still, both the House and Senate Armed Services committees approving the larger dollar figure sets a benchmark for congressional budget talks going forward. And the NDAA and defense appropriations bills typically need Republican votes to pass with progressives routinely voting against them.

But progressives, who griped that Biden’s request was too large in the face of pressing domestic spending needs, are fuming now that some of their fellow Democrats sided with Republicans.

“I don’t understand why we need, at a time when we are withdrawing from Afghanistan, when we have been withdrawing from Iraq, a budget that is higher than at the height of the Cold War,” Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — Rocky US alliances as Biden heads to UN assembly Groups push lawmakers to use defense bill to end support for Saudis in Yemen civil war Equilibrium/Sustainability — Presented by The American Petroleum Institute — Dems demand accounting from Big Oil MORE (D-Calif.) said.

“The Democrats right now have the presidency. We have the Senate. We have the House of Representatives. And you’re telling me, our party, when we have both chambers and the president, are going to succumb to a Republican addition to the defense budget?” he added.