The House Appropriations Committee has passed a fiscal year 2023 defense spending bill that is in line with the amount requested by President Biden, despite efforts elsewhere on Capitol Hill to boost the defense topline anywhere between $37 billion and $45 billion.
The committee passed the bill by a vote of 32-26.
Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN), chair of the defense appropriations subcommittee, said the bill is $33 billion above what Congress enacted for defense in FY-22, also noting that lawmakers have approved an additional $26 billion in emergency supplemental funding for the U.S. response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
“I suspect many of my friends on the other side of the aisle will say that the allocation is insufficient. I respectfully disagree,” she said. “In March, we passed an omnibus, which increased defense spending under the jurisdiction of our subcommittee by nearly $33 billion. That does not include the more than $26 billion we have provided in emergency funds related to Russian’s illegal invasion of Ukraine through two supplementals. This bill adds another $33 billion to the Pentagon’s side of the ledger.”
The committee’s bill funds DOD at $762 billion and is aligned with the $813 billion Biden seeks for total national defense spending in FY-23.
The bill would cut Pentagon procurement by $1 billion below the level enacted in FY-22 and would boost research and development funding by $12.5 billion above the FY-22 enacted level.
But congressional Republicans want to see increases of tens of billions of dollars for FY-23, similar to the $45 billion boost the Senate Armed Services Committee authorized last week.
Rep. Ken Calvert (R-CA), the ranking Republican on the defense appropriations subcommittee, said that with historical inflation, which the Consumer Price Index places at 8.6%, the current topline would amount to a defense cut.
“Failing to increase the topline will directly result in a loss of combat capability and readiness,” he said. “Without additional funding, we cannot procure additional fifth-generation fighters, more ships for our naval fleet, or more training that our warfighters need to be ready in any conflict.”
Committee Chairwoman Rosa DeLauro (D-CT), however, said inflation has “much broader context” and impacts more than just the Pentagon, which, in some cases, is not tied to consumer price analysis.
“I think it’s important to note that inflation does not depreciate the value of defense spending on a dollar-for-dollar basis,” she said. “In many cases, DOD’s contractual arrangements actually insulate the Pentagon from the effects of inflation.”
Rep. Kay Granger (R-TX), the committee’s ranking Republican, today characterized the FY-23 defense topline as “completely misguided.”
“I hope we can find common ground over the months ahead,” she said, acknowledging the upcoming partisan spending debate.
The bill also contains other provisions Republicans oppose, such as the closure of the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay Cuba and a repeal of the 2001 Authorization for the Use of Military Force.
Meanwhile, the House Armed Services Committee voted 42-17 to increase the defense topline by $37 billion. Last week, the Senate Armed Services Committee voted to increase the topline by $45 billion.