Updated: May 11
President Biden on Friday released a budget proposal for fiscal year 2022 that said Navy shipbuilding is a top priority and called for increased spending at the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs.
Biden’s proposed budget called for $715 billion in defense spending, up about 1.6 percent from the current $704 billion level. The plan said deterring China is DOD’s “top challenge,” and said it’s designed to optimize U.S. naval shipbuilding, although no details were provided about precise levels of Navy funding.
“Maintaining U.S. naval power is critical to reassuring allies and signaling U.S. resolve to potential adversaries,” it said. “The discretionary request proposes executable and responsible investments in the U.S. Navy fleet. In addition, the discretionary request continues the recapitalization of the Nation’s strategic ballistic missile submarine fleet, and invests in remotely operated and autonomous systems and the next generation attack submarine program.”
Presidential budget proposals are just that – proposals that Congress can either adopt or ignore. For the last few decades these proposals have served more as indications of a president’s priorities that are mostly ignored by Congress.
However, this initial plan indicates that there is growing pressure on the new administration to boost defense spending. Close observers were expecting a slightly smaller DOD budget – about $708 billion – just a few weeks ago.
Biden proposed $113.1 billion for VA, an 8.2 percent increase from current spending. That increase would allow for more spending on mental health care, suicide prevention, women’s health and veterans’ homeless programs. It also provided another $2.7 billion to modernize VA’s electronic health record.