According to a White House plan revealed on Monday, Defense Department spending would climb by 4% in fiscal 2023, which is much higher than what administration officials requested last year but likely not enough to please legislative Republicans.
The $773 billion plan, according to administration officials, includes new funds to assist Ukraine in its fight against Russia, new investments in military aircraft and nuclear deterrence systems, and enough funding to counter “persistent threats such as those posed by North Korea, Iran, and violent extremist organizations.”
The entire expenditure proposal is a more than $30 billion, or 4%, increase over the fiscal 2022 authorized amount.
Last year, White House officials proposed a less-than-3% increase, sparking a protracted battle with Republicans and moderate Democrats who finally added more to the Pentagon’s spending totals.
Even with this year’s greater request, that discussion is certain to reoccur. In response to rising inflation and escalating global threats, 40 House and Senate Republicans pressed the White House this week to boost the national defense budget by at least 5%. Sen. Roger Wicker, R-Miss., branded the request “strategically unwise” on Monday, arguing that Congress should change it to prevent Russia, China, and other threats.
“To meet this challenge, our top military brass from all branches are wisely asking for more. More ships, more planes, more weapons, more satellites, and more training,” said Wicker, the Senate Armed Services Committee’s No. 2 Republican. “However, President [Joe] Biden is giving them less to perform their goal.” This is strategically unwise, and it raises the possibility of future conflicts and dangers to our country.”
Biden described the proposed budget as “one of the greatest investments in our national security in history, with the funding required to guarantee that our military remains the best-prepared, best-trained, and best-equipped force in the world” in a statement released on Monday.
According to White House officials, if enacted, the budget plan would represent a 9.8 percent increase in military expenditure over the past two years, providing “the resources necessary to sustain and strengthen U.S. deterrence [and] advancing our vital national interests.”
The budget prioritizes research, development, test, and evaluation expenditures for another year, with $130.1 billion, a 9.5 percent increase, as the “biggest ever.” $4.7 billion will be spent on hypersonic weaponry, $3.3 billion on microelectronics and 5G networking, and $1.3 billion on biotechnology.
Despite the fact that Congress overturned plans to divest from “old platforms” last year, the administration has proposed identical ideas again, stating that it reprioritized $2.7 billion in expenditure. The Air Force would retire 150 planes and transfer 100 MQ-9s to another federal department, while the Navy would decommission 24 ships, 16 of which would be decommissioned before the end of their service lifetimes.
“The department had some success last year in some of these areas, and the reason the department keeps asking is that it’s something that has to happen,” a senior military official told reporters last week.
The budget demands $6.2 billion for the European Deterrence Initiative, including $300 million for Ukraine as it defends itself against a Russian invasion. With China still posing a “pacing threat,” the Pentagon is seeking $6.1 billion for the Indo-Pacific Deterrence Initiative.
It also provides full financing for updating all three legs of the nuclear triad, with the nuclear business receiving $34.4 billion. This includes $6.3 billion for the Columbia-class submarine, $5 billion for the B-21 bomber, and $3.6 billion for the Ground Based Strategic Deterrent, a next-generation intercontinental ballistic missile, as well as $4.8 billion for nuclear command and control systems.
The Pentagon announced proposed supply chain resiliency investments totaling $3.3 billion for microelectronics, $605 million to expand suppliers of hypersonic and directed energy weapons, $253 million for “critical materials,” $48 billion for casting and forging, and $43 million for batteries and energy storage.
According to a budget summary, the White House praised the defense industrial base as a source of innovation.
“DOD plays a crucial role in total government R&D that promotes innovation, provides high-value technology, ensures American superiority over strategic competitors, and creates good-paying employment,” according to the White House brief.
“The budget prioritizes defense R&D, test, and evaluation funding to invest in breakthrough technologies that drive innovation, support capacity in the defense technology industrial base, ensure American technological leadership, and underpin the development of next-generation defense capabilities,” it went on to say.
Defense officials have admitted that the budget represents a loss of purchasing power. The Pentagon completed its budget in mid-January, before the Ukraine conflict and the subsequent surge in fuel costs.
“Inflation coming forward, depending on Russia’s effect in Ukraine on skyrocketing gasoline costs, that’s a new issue that will have to be addressed,” the senior defense official said.
Biden requested $753 billion in overall defense and national security expenditures for fiscal year 22; however, Congress boosted that to $782 billion.
According to Capital Alpha Partners’ Byron Callan, the Republican objective for overall defense and national security expenditure is expected to be $875 billion.
“We don’t reject the possibility of such an increase occurring, but the ultimate decision for appropriations may not be settled until 2023,” Callan said in a letter to investors on Sunday.