The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday approved a $25 billion increase in Pentagon spending, in a bipartisan vote rejecting President Biden’s inflation-trailing proposed military budget in a bipartisan vote.
The measure passed the committee as part of the annual National Defense Authorization Act that sets military policy. The spending increase is in line with a similar measure passed by the Senate Armed Services Committee in July.
“The bipartisan adoption of my amendment sends a clear signal: the President’s budget submission was wholly inadequate to keep pace with a rising China and a re-emerging Russia,” said Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the committee’s ranking Republican. “I hope this bipartisan, and now bicameral, move is understood by the Biden-Harris administration.”
“The defense of our nation will not be shortchanged by Congress,” he said.
The increase would push the Pentagon budget for fiscal 2022 to roughly $740 billion.
Rep. Elaine Luria, a Virginia Democrat and retired Navy commander who voted for the increase, said the president’s budget didn’t do enough to ensure America’s military might.
“More than ever, the world is watching what we do here today,” Ms. Luria, whose district includes Naval Station Norfolk, said. “What is the future of America’s armed forces? What message does our defense budget send to not only our enemies but also our allies?”
Republicans and some Democrats have expressed frustration with the administration’s proposed budget, which they say puts the military at a disadvantage as the Pentagon eyes growing threats from Russia and China.
Support for increasing the top-line for the Pentagon was by no means unanimous.
House Armed Service Committee Chairman Adam Smith, Washington Democrat, supported the top-line number in Mr. Biden’s budget proposal.
Democratic Reps. Barbara Lee of California and Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, who are members of both the Appropriations Committee and the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus, sent an open letter to Mr. Smith on Monday urging him to stiff-arm attempts to inject budget increases in the NDAA.
“At a time when the United States is withdrawing from wars abroad, we should be committed to cutting our defense spending now more than ever,” Mr. Pocan said.
Mr. Smith said during the debate that the increase fails to incentivize the Pentagon to spend wisely and that Mr. Biden’s budget “had the exact right number to get to the right results.”
“Simply throwing more money at the problem does not solve it,” he said.
The House Appropriations Committee’s Defense Funding Bill, which passed the full committee in a 33 to 23 vote in July proposes a 1.4% year-over-year increase the Pentagon’s top-line, in line with the president’s proposed budget.