President Joe Biden has proposed a record $813 billion in defense spending for fiscal year 2023, but a key Senate committee is making it clear that lawmakers intend to spend a lot more than that next year.
The Senate Armed Services Committee on Thursday approved a roughly $45 billion increase in the defense spending total for 2023, boosting its version of the National Defense Authorization Act to a total of $847 billion. (The committee does not have jurisdiction over roughly $10 billion in defense spending that is included in the president’s budget request, so the totals don’t quite match up.)
Republicans have been pushing for a big spending increase in 2023, looking for a 3% to 5% bump over last year’s total of $768 billion, plus enough to cover the rate of inflation. Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top-ranking Republican on the committee, which is naming the bill for him in his final year in office, said he was pleased with the result. “It’s everything I hoped for,” he said.
Armed Services Chair Jack Reed (D-RI) told Politico that the extra money was intended to make up for purchasing power lost to inflation, as well as to give additional funds to the Department of Defense to cover the cost of providing extensive military aid to Ukraine.
What’s next: The Senate and the House will have to hammer out a final topline for the 2023 NDAA, which authorizes but does not appropriate defense spending (the latter happens via a separate bill). The House Armed Services Committee plans to mark up its version of the NDAA next week, and although chair Adam Smith (D-WA) has indicated that he supports the White House budget, he also said this week that an increase now seems likely. “In the short term, we're just going to try to pass the bill and I'm certain that there will be an amendment offered to increase the defense budget,” Smith said Wednesday.
The bottom line: Another major bump for defense spending, with the GOP leading the way. “This marks the second budget of the Biden administration, and the second year in a row that Senate Democrats have joined Republicans to add billions to the request,” says Politico’s Connor O’Brien. “Despite a progressive wing that has vowed to cut defense spending, the 50-50 split in the Senate means that the majority can’t pass the NDAA without Republican help, which gives the GOP leverage to force higher budgets.”