Here’s How House Republicans Could Actually Cut The Defense Budget

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James Lynch Contributor
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House Republicans are planning to cap 2024 discretionary spending at fiscal year (FY) 2022 levels, a move that could reduce the defense budget by $75 billion.

A group of House Republicans agreed to curb discretionary spending in a deal with Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. The concession was one of many that helped move the needle for some GOP lawmakers to elect McCarthy as the next speaker Jan. 7 after 14 failed attempts. The proposed spending cuts did not specify any changes to the FY 2024 defense budget, but a reduction to 2022 levels could result in a significant budget decrease, according to Bloomberg.

“We got a $32 trillion debt. Everything has to be on the table,” Republican Ohio Rep. Jim Jordan said on “Fox News Sunday,” referring to the defense budget. “Frankly, we’d better look at that money we send to Ukraine as well and say how can we best best spend the money to protect America.”

GOP Rep. Chip Roy of Texas, a leading holdout against Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy, has taken a different approach to fiscal spending cuts. “During negotiations, cuts to defense were NEVER DISCUSSED,” according to a Twitter thread from Roy’s press office Sunday. “In fact, there was broad agreement spending cuts should focus on NON-DEFENSE discretionary spending.”

Numerous Republican lawmakers have criticized the possibility of reducing the defense budget, expressing skepticism that any cuts would successfully pass through Congress.

Foreign policy analysts believe there are multiple approaches the GOP could take if Republicans were to cut the defense budget down to 2022 levels. (RELATED: Pentagon Brings Ukrainian Troops To The US For Patriot Missile Training)

“I think one of their top priorities should be cutting spending in support of the war in Ukraine. We have already spent over $110 billion across multiple agencies in support of the war over the last year,” Vice President of Foreign Policy for Stand Together Dan Caldwell told the Daily Caller.

“That amount is more than the budget of the United States Marine Corps and far more than any other individual country, including wealthy European nations who have more of a stake in what happens in Ukraine than the United States,” he added.

Director of Defense and Foreign Policy at the Cato Institute Justin Logan said he believes defense spending could be cut in areas where U.S. ambitions are more limited, such as deploying troops in foreign nations.

“Making significant cuts to the ground forces — Army especially, but also to the Marines — to acknowledge those changes would save many tens of billions every year,” Logan told the Caller.

“Sensible conservative savings should be much deeper, but if people really wanted to hedge against tail risks, $80 billion would be extremely conservative cuts. The United States is spending roughly as much on defense in real terms as it was at the height of the Cold War. That’s way too much for the threats we face,” he added.

Director for the Center for National Defense at the Heritage Foundation Thomas Spoehr argued there are no large items that could be cut from the defense budget. If Republicans were to reduce defense spending, Spoehr said he believes the GOP would focus on Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) programs; climate funding; diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) and pet political projects.

The FY 2023 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) raised annual defense spending to a record $858 billion, an 8% increase from fiscal 2022 levels and $45 billion more than what the Biden administration proposed.

Overwhelming bipartisan majorities in the House and Senate voted for the legislation in December, which included a 4.6% pay raise for troops and greater support for Taiwan and Ukraine, Reuters reported.