Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood referred questions about the topline budget number to the White House Bureau of Administration and Budget, adding that the Pentagon will “provide additional information” once the levels are released. A spokesman for the OMB did not comment immediately. Bloomberg First the planned Pentagon topline was reported.
By the numbers: It was largely expected that Biden would request a flat-rate budget. The $ 715 billion level would mean an increase in defense spending of around 1.5 percent from the current year, effectively making it an inflation-adjusted budget boost.
While this is a slight increase from current levels, the cap would still be below the $ 722 billion projected by the Trump administration in its final budget submission. The postponement would force billions of dollars in cuts that had been expected by the Pentagon budget tariffs.
The total includes the Pentagon’s base budget, but does not include the Department of Energy’s nuclear weapons expenditures.
Money to deter China, Russia: The plan falls short of the 3 to 5 percent increase that GOP lawmakers are pressuring to support the White House. They argue that the range that Pentagon leaders set during the Trump administration is necessary to adequately fund a military transformation to counter threats from China and Russia.
In the weeks leading up to the budget release, top Republicans stepped up their offensive, warned Biden of stagnating or reduced military spending, and slammed Democrats seeking cuts in defense.
Top Republicans on the House Senate and Armed Forces Committees, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) And Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Voted for a raise while Senate Minority Chairman Mitch McConnell, has warned that Biden’s seriousness to countering China will be measured by how robust its military spending plan is.
Asks for cuts: Biden is also under pressure from his left to aggressively cut the Pentagon budget and divert money towards diplomacy and domestic programs, which his party considers more urgent.
Fifty House Democrats lettered Biden last month calling for a “significantly reduced” Pentagon budget, arguing that the defense budget could be cut by more than 10 percent without compromising national security.
Lara Seligman contributed to this report.