Biden is receiving criticism from both Democrats and Republicans for his proposed $715 billion defense budget released Friday, with progressives arguing that the budget is too much money for the Pentagon, and Republicans stating that the budget request is not enough to support the country’s defense needs, especially against adversaries like China.
The $715 billion for the Defense Department is 1.6% higher than the $704 billion allocated to the Defense Department in 2021, according to the budget plan.
US Representative Mark Pocan argued Friday that the increase in Pentagon spending levels is an “unacceptable increase.”
"We cannot best build back better if the Pentagon’s budget is larger than it was under Donald Trump," Pocan said Friday, cited by Fox News.
Representative Ro Khanna also agreed, calling for Biden to return to defense spending levels under the Barack Obama administration.
Meanwhile, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders also expressed concerns about the “bloated’ Pentagon request.
"At a time when the US already spends more on the military than the next 12 nations combined, it is time for us to take a serious look at the massive cost overruns, the waste and fraud that currently exists at the Pentagon," Sanders said Friday.
However, Republicans voiced different concerns, with five leading GOP senators, including US Senator Marco Rubio and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, arguing Friday that Biden’s 1.6% increase in Pentagon funds simply accounts for inflation.
"President Biden’s budget proposal cuts defense spending, sending a terrible signal not only to our adversaries in Beijing and Moscow, but also to our allies and partners," the GOP senators wrote. "Cutting America’s defense budget completely undermines Washington Democrats’ tough talk on China and calls into question the administration’s willingness to confront the Chinese Communist Party”.
Biden’s proposal also eliminates the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds, additional funds operated by the Department of Defense and the State Department to handle conflicts with uncertain costs.
In 2021, OCO funds amounted to about $69 billion. Under Biden’s proposal, the funding for ongoing wars would be part of the overall defense base budget instead of a separate war fund.