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 BidenJan. 6 panel lays out criminal contempt case against Bannon Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by the American Petroleum Institute — Democrats address reports that clean energy program will be axed Two House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms 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 RogersLawmakers, security experts call for beefing up cybersecurity Hillicon Valley — Presented by LookingGlass — Congress looks to strengthen government's aging cyber infrastructure The Memo: Generals' testimony on Afghanistan hurts Biden's credibility 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 LuriaFormer VA secretaries propose National Warrior Call Day to raise military suicide awareness Business groups create new headache for Pelosi Chamber of Commerce warns moderate Democrats against voting for reconciliation 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. LangevinHillicon Valley — Presented by American Edge Project — Americans blame politicians, social media for spread of misinformation: poll Democrats urge federal agencies to address use of cryptocurrencies for ransomware payments Biden signs bill to strengthen K-12 school cybersecurity 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 BrownOvernight Defense & National Security — Presented by AM General — The Quad confab House panel advances 8B defense bill Democrats defeat GOP effort to declare 'lost confidence' in Biden after Afghanistan withdrawal MORE (Md.), Filemon VelaFilemon Bartolome VelaTwo House Democrats to retire ahead of challenging midterms Two senior House Democrats to retire Democratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse 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 VeaseyTo fight voting restriction efforts in Texas, the Senate must pass voting rights bill Overnight 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 MORE (Texas), Stephanie MurphyStephanie MurphyDemocratic retirements could make a tough midterm year even worse On The Money — Progressives play hard ball on Biden budget plan Overnight Energy & Environment — Presented by ExxonMobil — Climate divides conservative Democrats in reconciliation push MORE (Fla.), Steven HorsfordSteven Alexander HorsfordHarris to highlight drought, climate change in Nevada trip Nevada congressional candidate says she was 'drafted' to run Black Caucus meets with White House over treatment of Haitian migrants MORE (Nev.), Salud CarbajalSalud CarbajalCongress should put a price on carbon House panel approves B boost for defense budget Biden's corporate tax hike is bad for growth — try a carbon tax instead MORE (Calif.) and Elissa SlotkinElissa SlotkinDemocrats fret as longshot candidates pull money, attention Bleak midterm outlook shadows bitter Democratic battle Hillicon Valley — Presented by American Edge Project — Americans blame politicians, social media for spread of misinformation: 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.

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 SmithFacebook's the latest example that we must rewrite laws on corporate harm Overnight Defense & National Security — US attempts to mend ties with France Pentagon requires COVID-19 vaccines for civilian employees by Nov. 22 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. 

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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) KhannaParis Hilton to visit Capitol Hill to advocate for bill on children's treatment centers Sunday shows preview: Supply chain crisis threaten holiday sales; uncertainty over whether US can sustain nationwide downward trend in COVID-19 cases Congress needs to step up on crypto, or Biden might crush it 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.