Budget

Sanders expresses ‘serious concerns’ with Biden’s defense increase

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Greg Nash

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) expressed “serious concern” Friday over President Biden’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. 

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 Khanna (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.

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 McConnell (R-Ky.), Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James Inhofe (R-Okla.), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Senate Budget Committee ranking member Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), and Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Richard Shelby (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. 

Tags 2022 budget Bernie Sanders Defense budget James Inhofe Jim Inhofe Joe Biden Lindsey Graham Marco Rubio military spending Mitch McConnell poverty in America progressive Democrats Richard Shelby Ro Khanna

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