In March, Republicans called for 'a 3 to 5 percent increase.' The current proposal they find 'grossly inadequate' is 5%.
Senate Democrats unveiled nine appropriations bills on Monday that include increases in defense and nondefense spending. Republicans are complaining that the military spending increase isn't big enough.
A press release prepared by the office of Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy noted, "With a 13 percent increase for non-defense discretionary programs and a five percent increase for defense-related programs, these bills make important investments in our Nation's infrastructure, our environment, national security, and American families."
Republicans were quick to attack, demanding even more money for defense and less money for reproductive health care coverage.
Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby, the top Republican on the appropriations panel, called for the plans to be scrapped and replaced with "a top-line agreement that does not shortchange our nation's defense."
"As Communist China escalates its threats & Americans remain stranded in Afghanistan, Democrats decide to put liberal priorities first like federal funding for abortions while barely increase defense spending by 5%," complained Florida Sen. Rick Scott, who chairs the National Republican Senatorial Committee. "Time to stop the reckless socialist spending & protect the U.S."
"The @SenateApprops Defense bill is grossly inadequate and shortchanges our national defense," said Nebraska Sen. Deb Fischer. "This is unacceptable."
Mississippi Sen. Cindy Hyde-Smith called the majority's approach "a blatantly partisan departure from past practices & from what this nation needs. These bills are an affront to anyone serious about national defense, border security, the sanctity of life, and responsible government."
But the Democratic proposal incorporates an increase over last year's $741 billion defense budget, which accounts for close to half of the federal government's annual discretionary spending.
In April, President Joe Biden released a proposed budget asking for a $12 billion (1.7%) increase in defense spending.
Republican lawmakers demanded more. A March letter from the top Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee and all seven of its subcommittees had asked Biden "to reject demands from many on the left to cut or freeze defense spending at current levels" and to "continue the progress made under the Trump administration to rebuild our military by requesting a 3 to 5 percent increase over the inflation adjusted FY21 enacted level."
Some progressives said Biden's proposed increase in defense spending was too big and urged cuts.
Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY) said during a speech on the House floor in September, "During a time when our country is withdrawing from foreign wars, when COVID-19 and its fallout is one of the greatest threats that we face, when record levels of unemployment, housing and health care crises are among us, the United States should be reducing its military spending by at least 10% and prioritize the very needs of our communities here at home."
Earlier in the month, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) said at a House Armed Services Committee markup that in light of the end of the nearly two-decades-long war in Afghanistan, there was no reason for defense spending to be going up.
"One would think our defense budget would decrease or at least stay the same after ending our longest war," he told colleagues. "To increase it goes against all logic."
But his colleagues on the committee voted to increase the budget by $24 billion.
Leahy's proposal for 2022 would include a $29.3 billion increase over fiscal year 2021.
The GOP demands for still more defense spending comes just days after every Republican in the House and Senate refused to raise the debt limit.
In June, Rick Scott demanded spending cuts, writing, "America is in a debt crisis. Our nation is barreling toward $30 trillion in debt – an unimaginable $233,000 in debt for every family in America. It's a crisis caused by decades of wasteful and reckless spending by Washington politicians."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.