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Republicans say bigger defense budget needed to fend off inflation

Updated: Mar 24, 2022

House and Senate Republicans told President Biden this week that rising inflation will put U.S. military readiness at risk unless he proposes a healthy increase in defense spending for the next fiscal year.

“As you prepare your fiscal year 2023 (FY23) budget for submission to Congress, we strongly encourage you to reject the approach you took last year when you proposed to cut defense spending below the rate of inflation,” Republican on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees wrote in a letter to Biden. “Instead, we urge you to request a 5 percent increase over the inflation-adjusted FY22 enacted level.”

The call for a spending hike comes just days before the Biden administration is set to announce his FY 2023 spending proposal to Congress. The White House budget plan is expected to be released Monday, March 28, and rumors are already flying that it will push for a small cut to defense spending, not the increase Republicans are seeking.

The GOP letter cited the rising threats of China and Russia, as well as terrorist organizations that have regained a foothold in Afghanistan since the U.S. withdrawal. Republicans warned that inflation is another major challenge that must be taken into account when designing a plan that addresses America’s national security needs.

“Not since 1982 has our nation experienced this level of inflation,” they wrote. “It is driving up the cost of fuel, supplies, and labor for the defense industrial base and the Department of Defense. Failing to provide a budget request that exceeds the rate of inflation equates to a cut in real dollars – a cut we can no longer afford.”

The lawmakers reminded Biden that Congress just approved a spending plan for the rest of the current fiscal year that rejected the administration’s proposed defense cuts. That bill spared the Navy from a reduction of seven ships and instead will allow it to add a vessel to the fleet this year.

“We hope that action convinces you that overwhelming political support exists for increasing immediate investment in our national defense,” they wrote.

Along those lines, Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) wrote in an op-ed this week that urged Biden to propose at least $31 billion for shipbuilding, a 17 pct increase and enough for 15 new ships.

“This would pave the way to deliver three new attack submarines per year while adding a second shipyard to build the new Constellation-class frigates,” Wicker wrote in the Washington Examiner. “It would also support the development of next-generation destroyers, maintain our current number of aircraft carriers, and support the continued development of modern Columbia-class submarines.”

GOP DOD spending
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