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Sanders expresses 'serious concerns' with Biden's defense increase

Sanders expresses 'serious concerns' with Biden's defense increase
© Greg Nash

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersWarren calls for US to support ceasefire between Israel and Hamas Prominent Muslim group to boycott White House Eid celebration over stance on Israel-Gaza violence Biden speaks with Israel's Netanyahu again amid ramped-up strikes in Gaza MORE (I-Vt.) expressed "serious concern" Friday over President BidenJoe BidenWarren calls for US to support ceasefire between Israel and Hamas UN secretary general 'deeply disturbed' by Israeli strike on high rise that housed media outlets Nation's largest nurses union condemns new CDC guidance on masks MORE's proposed $12.3 billion increase in defense spending.

"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 over-runs, the waste and fraud that currently exists at the Pentagon," Sanders said.

Sanders's words carry extra weight given his position at the head of the Budget Committee and as a progressive leader in the Democratic Party. 

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He joins a slew of progressives in speaking out against the proposed 1.7 percent boost in defense spending.

"We need a fundamental shift in how we address national security issues and invest in climate action and pandemic response," said Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaSenate panel approves bill that would invest billions in tech GOP downplays Jan. 6 violence: Like a 'normal tourist visit' House conservatives take aim at Schumer-led bipartisan China bill MORE (D-Calif.), calling the proposal "disappointing" and noting that it is well above defense spending levels at the end of the Obama administration.

"Those are the issues impacting the security of the American people and will keep Americans safer than spending billions on more deadly weapons.”

Biden Friday morning proposed a defense budget of $753 billion and a nondefense budget of $769 billion for the 2022 fiscal year, which begins in October.

Progressives including Sanders praised the 16 percent increase Biden laid out for nondefense spending, with particular focuses on education and health.

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But their critiques on defense spending demonstrate tough battles ahead for Biden.

While progressives called for slashing military spending by 10 percent, Republicans slammed Biden for proposing a figure that is, in inflation-adjusted terms, relatively stagnant.

“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," read a joint statement by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellWashington showing signs of normalcy after year of restrictions Former OMB pick Neera Tanden to serve as senior adviser to Biden Lawmakers reach agreement on bipartisan Jan. 6 commission MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeInhofe tells EPA nominee he'll talk to her 'daddy' if she does not 'behave' OVERNIGHT ENERGY: Senate nixes Trump rule limiting methane regulation | Senate confirms EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' | Fine-particle pollution disproportionately hurts people of color: research EPA chief: Biden's climate goals are 'an opportunity to lead' MORE (R-Okla.), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioAlabama Gov. Kay Ivey signs daylight savings bill Study: Early unemployment cutoff would cost 16M people 0B The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Cheney poised to be ousted; Biden to host big meeting MORE (R-Fla.), Senate Budget Committee ranking member Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamPro-Trump lawyer Lin Wood causes headache for GOP in key S.C. race GOP governors move to cut unemployment benefits as debate rages over effects Trump critics push new direction for GOP MORE (R-S.C.), and Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyBiden officials testify that white supremacists are greatest domestic security threat Republicans embrace Trump in effort to reclaim Senate Top Senate Democrat announces return of earmarks MORE (R-Ala.).

"Cutting America’s defense budget completely undermines Washington Democrats’ tough talk on China and calls into question the administration’s willingness to confront the Chinese Communist Party," they said.

Biden will need GOP support to pass any of the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government.