Biden administration set to propose largest Defense budget in US history as GOP pushes for spending cuts

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Biden administration set to propose largest Defense budget in US history as GOP pushes for spending cuts
An aerial view of the Pentagon.Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images
  • The Biden administration is close to asking Congress for the largest-ever US defense budget, per Politico.
  • Lawmakers in December authorized $858 billion in defense spending, more than what President Biden had requested.
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The Biden administration is "very close" to requesting the largest defense budget in United States history, according to Politico.

Per the chief financial officer at the Department of Defense, officials in the Biden administration will soon ask Congress for the funding once they have agreed to a topline figure. The administration will then add the figure as part of its budget request for 2024, which is slated to be released on March 9, per the report.

Pentagon Comptroller Michael McCord told Politico that he anticipates the figure "will be a bigger number than Congress provided last year."

McCord did not elaborate further on a specific figure since it could still change, but he told Politico that the Pentagon sought to amass munitions to refill US stockpiles, while continuing to aid Ukraine in their fight against Russia.

Lawmakers in December authorized $858 billion in national defense spending, a number that was $45 billion higher than what President Joe Biden had requested. Broken down, $817 billion was set aside for the Department of Defense, with billions in additional funding reserved for nuclear weapons development and separate national security programs, per Politico.

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The funding increase was sought by the Pentagon to allow the country to serve as a bulwark against Russia, while also maintaining technological strengths to counter China's rising influence on the global stage and battling inflation.

But unlike last year, the administration's Pentagon budget proposal now faces a skeptical House Republican majority, which is seeking to force spending cuts tied to any plans to raise the debt limit. While Biden has called for a clean debt limit increase, House Speaker Kevin McCarthy of California and his GOP conference are insistent on spending cuts.

Biden and McCarthy met at the White House earlier this month to discuss the debt limit, with the speaker preemptively stating that he would not seek cuts to Medicare and Social Security as it related to debt ceiling negotiations.

Republicans in recent days have laid out several potential areas that they feel are ripe for spending reductions, which include Biden's student-debt relief plan and Environmental Protection Agency programs included in the Inflation Reduction Act.

GOP leaders have not ruled out curtailing some Pentagon spending, but the more hawkish members of the Republican conference will be apt to push back against major defense cuts.

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McCord told Politico that lawmakers would have to make some difficult decisions if they sought substantial spending reductions for the Pentagon.

"You are going to have to face the harder question of what is it that you want to do less? Do you want to have fewer people? Do you want to have fewer ships? Fewer airplanes? Smaller pay raises? That's where the money is in the defense budget," he told the outlet.

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