Houses Votes to Increase Pentagon Budget

Houses Votes to Increase Pentagon Budget

In what may be seen as a sharp rebuke of President Biden’s defense budget proposal, which actually cut the Pentagon’s spending power, The House has passed the Fiscal Year 2023 Defense Budget, known as H.R. 7900.

Rather than reducing defense purchasing ability, the House bill keeps it intact by adding about $37 billion to the White House version, for a total of $840 billion. Department of Defense spending accounts for about 14% of federal spending.

U.S. Representative Mike Rogers (R-AL), Lead Republican of the House Armed Services Committee, stressed that the measure puts “our servicemembers first, providing a 4.6 percent pay raise and expanding benefits for military spouses and families.” It provides a 2.4 percent bonus to enlisted members, adds It includes an additional $500 million for housing allowances to offset the cost of skyrocketing rents; and provides an additional $750 million to reduce the price of food and other necessities at military commissaries… It expands training availabilities for servicemembers and improves safety of U.S. ships, aircraft, combat vehicles, and facilities.”

In recognition of the extraordinary advances made by China, Russia, and others, funding has been provided for emerging fields, such as AI, quantum computing, hypersonic weapons, and autonomous systems.

American defense took a major hit during the Obama presidency. Despite the unprecedented arms buildup and aggressive acts by Russia, China, Iran and North Korea, the Obama Administration chose to slash defense spending, and Congress, which had agreed to the sequester in response to the doubling of the national debt during the Great Recession, failed to respond.

It left America’s military in a sharply deteriorated state. Prior to the restoration of some funds during the Trump presidency, it had its last major upgrade during the Reagan years in the 1980’s, and equipment from that era became sharply worn down from repeated conflicts in the Middle East and Afghanistan. The same can be said for its personnel.

Wall Street Journal analysis earlier this year noted that “The longer the U.S. waits to build a national defense adequate to the challenges it faces, the greater the danger and expense ultimately will be. Americans shouldn’t deceive themselves. The end of the post-Cold War era is a major setback. For 30 years the American intellectual and policy establishment mocked Russia, fantasized about China, and frittered the country’s resources away on ill-judged diversions. At the same time, opponents—clearer-eyed than the U.S. was about the foundations of international power—created new realities that Washington must confront.”

The unpleasant reality facing lawmakers is that the U.S. does not have the technological superiority it once enjoyed.   Russia and China have technology equal to, and in some cases surpassing, much of what the Pentagon can field.

An American Enterprise Institute study has noted that “The diffusion of advanced military technology and the means to manufacture it have accelerated. Capabilities in which the United States once enjoyed a monopoly (e.g. precision munitions and unmanned systems) have now proliferated … to virtually all U.S. adversaries in short order; Nations such as China and Russia have made concerted efforts to outpace and counter the military-technological advancements of the United States.”

Additionally, the numbers no longer favor the U.S.  Russia has a larger nuclear arsenal, and China has far more ships.

Over the past several months, specific examples of the growing military danger to the U.S. have become clearer. China has started to develop naval bases directly aimed at threatening the U.S. Russia has launched a “doomsday” submarine capable of causing vast destruction to America’s eastern seaboard.

The House bill now requires approval by the Senate, and, following that, the White House.

Frank Vernuccio serves as editor-in-chief of the New York Analysis of Policy and Government. 

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