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While the Pentagon’s basic budget proposal is $ 715 billion, the total proposal, which includes funding for nuclear activities from the Department of Energy, is $ 753 billion. The budget approved for fiscal year 2021 totaled $ 741 billion, including $ 704 billion for the Pentagon. Despite the increase from last year, GOP defense hawks have attacked Biden’s proposed Pentagon budget for failing to keep pace with inflation.
An increase in the defense budget is far from being a done deal. The House of Representatives and the Senate must agree on a final bill on defense policy, which is unlikely to happen until later this year. Even then, the NDAA only approves and does not allocate funds. The House and Senate appropriations committees must approve the proposal for the increase to take effect.
The committee approved its closed-door version of the Defense Act on Wednesday evening.
Senate Armed Forces chairman Jack Reed hadn’t said how much military spending his committee’s bill would advocate before it hit.
Republicans have called for defense spending to increase by 3 to 5 percent annually above inflation. They have criticized the Biden government for calling for an effectively flat budget, which they believe will not help the military modernize to face the growing threats posed by China.
GOP members of the Armed Services Committee have argued that the Pentagon will be left behind while Biden and the Democrats seek to increase spending on most of the other federal agencies. Senator Dan Sullivan, R-Alaska, hinted at the deal at a subcommittee meeting Tuesday when he speculated that some Democrats might join the effort.
“You’re cutting defense spending [in] real numbers, “Sullivan said of the Biden government budget.” We have to change that. That is our oversight responsibility and I hope we can have a bipartisan vote in this committee to send a message [that we] shouldn’t cut the Defense Ministry’s budget, especially not now. “
But with the committee split evenly between Democrats and Republicans, the GOP defense hawks would only have to pull out one Democratic senator to win key votes.
Defense legislation also cannot pass the 50-50 Senate without Republican votes, which gives them significant leverage over the content of any bill, including the military policy measure that is imperative.