House Dems Approve Massive Defense Budget Despite Calls To Cut Spending

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Micaela Burrow Investigative Reporter, Defense
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The House Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense approved House Democrats’ personnel-focused $762 billion defense budget Wednesday following calls from some Democrats to cut spending.

The defense subcommittee approved the Democrats’ proposed 2023 budget after finishing markups in a closed hearing Wednesday, according to a press release. Democratic Rep. Barbara Lee of California and Democratic Rep. Mark Pocan of Wisconsin, who both serve on the Appropriations Committee, had introduced a resolution in the House on Monday to slash $100 billion from the existing defense budget in accounts not related to personnel and benefits.

The bill includes a $12.5 billion jump from Fiscal Year 2022 to support military modernization efforts, decreases procurement by $1 billion and renews a preexisting $300 million Ukraine assistance fund.

The latest proposal stands at $32 billion more than the FY 2022 budget but stops short of the $813 billion President Joe Biden requested in March, which, if passed, would be the largest in U.S. history, The Hill reported. Lawmakers say the proposals could grow before the final congressional vote.

“We’ll see by how much, but it’s not going to be an insignificant amount,” Democratic Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, told Defense News Wednesday.

Republican Virginia Rep. Rob Wittman said House and Senate committees could increase the bill’s topline between $35 and $45 billion, nearing the White House numbers, on a bipartisan basis, according to Defense News.

Lee and Pocan had accused the Biden administration of prioritizing defense industry profits over American citizens’ well-being.

“Just last year, key priorities like Build Back Better were left on the negotiating table, while Congress approved a $782 billion defense budget—higher than the military even requested. Meanwhile, our constituents continue to struggle with the cost of living and barriers to basic needs like housing and health care,” Lee said in a statement. (RELATED: China Is About To Exploit Serious Weaknesses in U.S. Military Might)

The House Appropriations version authorizes a 4.6% pay raise for military and civilian personnel and requires defense contractors pay a $15/hr minimum wage to employees, according to the description the committee gave in a statement. However, it bucks Republicans’ and defense contractors’ requests to raise the total amount 3% to 5% in line with historic inflation rates, Defense News reported.

The legislation also “addresses violence against women with funding to tackle sexual assault in the military and promote mental health through suicide prevention funds and directs [the Department of Defense] to address extremist ideologies, including white supremacy,” according to the committee statement, with nearly half a billion dollars directed to carrying out recommendations from the Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment. The bill also restricts the Department of Defense from denying leave requests to women seeking abortions.

In line with criticisms of U.S. alleged involvement in human rights abuses and President Biden’s promise to close the high-security detention facility at Guantanamo Bay, according to Amnesty, it also blocks funds maintaining the high-security detention facility at Guantanamo Bay.

The full committee hearing is scheduled for June 22.

The House Appropriations Committee directed The Daily Caller News Foundation to the committee statement on the subject.

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