Biden’s first budget proposal cuts defense spending in favor of massive domestic investment

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President Joe Biden issued his first budget proposal on Friday calling for $ 753 billion in defense-related spending, a substantially flat request compared to current levels when factoring in inflation, which is 1.7% higher than the current budget.

The move ignores calls from both defense hawks for substantial increases and progressives to drastically cut military spending. Biden’s draft for the next fiscal year also calls for $ 769 billion from Congress for non-defense programs, a 16% increase, with a significant boost to education and climate change efforts; It also provides the largest investment in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in nearly two decades, according to the White House.

The bulk of that $ 753 defense spending includes $ 715 for the Pentagon. The hike may not be enough to keep up with inflation, likely leading to Republican skirmishes on Capitol Hill calling for the budget to be raised 3% to 5% above inflation.

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In the past few weeks, Republicans on Capitol Hill, including Senate minority leader Mitch McConnell, have gone on the offensive, warning Biden that a shallow budget or even a modest increase in spending would hamper the military’s ability to modernize its capabilities, to compete with China.

Both top Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Forces Committees called on the government to invest more in cyber, space, naval warfare and the modernization of nuclear weapons.

“She [China] to outdo the United States, and I fear their doctrine will be ‘to dominate by strength,’ “said Rep. Mike Rogers, Republican chief on the House Armed Services Committee, during a speech to the Ronald Reagan Institute in March.

“We will not allow China to become our military peer,” he added. “The problem with reduced or flat defense budgets is that our opponents are not looking to cut defense spending. The opposite is true.”

Progressives have also prepared for a budget war, with 50 House Democrats drafting a letter to Biden last month urging cuts to the Pentagon’s spending. Senator Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., Chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, has long sought to cut the budget by 10%.

“Military spending, now higher than that of the next 11 nations combined, accounts for more than half of all federal discretionary spending,” Sanders said in a statement last year. “If the terrible pandemic we are witnessing has taught us anything, it is that national security means much more than building bombs, missiles, jet fighters, tanks, submarines, nuclear warheads and other weapons of mass destruction.”

The president’s plan calls for discretionary funding of $ 113.1 billion for the Department of Veterans Affairs, an 8.2% increase from current levels. This funding is in addition to the funds from the American rescue plan.

– Steve Beynon can be reached at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

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