Republicans on Armed Services Committees demand Biden increase defense budget

AP/Andrew Harnik

Forty Republican members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees are pressing President Biden to increase defense spending by 5 percent above inflation for fiscal year 2023.

In a letter to Biden on Wednesday, the lawmakers urged Biden to “reject the approach you took last year when you proposed to cut defense spending below the rate of inflation.”

“This is a crucial period for our national security,” reads the letter, led by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) and Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), the ranking members of the House and Senate Armed Services committees respectively.

“If we do not make the investments our military needs today, we will not be able to defend our nation or our allies in the future,” it continues.

The Hill has reached out to the Office of Management and Budget for comment.

Biden will release his 2023 budget request next Monday, Bloomberg reported on Friday citing a senior administration official. 

While the national defense budget funds the Pentagon, it also funds defense-related activities elsewhere in the federal government.

The president last year asked Congress for $753 billion in overall defense spending for fiscal year 2022. But under the $1.5 trillion fiscal year 2022 omnibus bill Biden signed earlier this month, that number was ultimately increased to $782 billion, roughly $30 billion more than what the president asked for.

The ultimate number was also a 5.6 percent increase over fiscal year 2021.

Reuters reported last month that Biden was expected to ask Congress for over $770 billion in defense spending for fiscal year 2023, largely due to a push from the Pentagon to modernize the military.

In asking for the increase, the Republicans noted Russia’s ongoing invasion of Ukraine as well as “little progress …made to deter the North Koreans, and Iranian aggression has escalated, with the potential for further escalation in the near future.”

The lawmakers asked Biden to use his fiscal year 2023 budget request to “target investments in programs that will modernize the force and fill ongoing readiness gaps,” such as improving proficiency in cybersecurity and growing the nation’s Naval and projection forces.

“The security of the free world depends on a credible American military,” the lawmakers wrote.  “We must work together to ensure the men and women of our Armed Services have the resources and support they need to successfully carry out their missions now and for decades to come.”

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