Progressive anti-war campaigners and lawmakers blasted President Joe Biden’s call Friday for a $753 billion military budget for fiscal year 2022, a request that goes beyond the current $740 billion spending level approved under former President Donald Trump.
Biden’s sprawling $6 trillion budget request—which has no binding force but serves as an indication of the administration’s priorities and a starting point for Congress—includes $1.5 trillion to fund government departments, with $715 billion of that total carved out for the Pentagon, the only federal agency that has yet to pass an audit.
“The Pentagon cannot even pass an audit, why on earth would we throw another $13 billion at an agency filled with fraud, waste, and little to no oversight?”
—Reps. Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan
Other military spending in Biden’s budget proposal includes billions of dollars for U.S. nuclear weapon modernization and an initiative purportedly aimed at “countering China’s military build-up in Asia,” a policy likely to heighten progressive fears of a new Cold War.
“Budgets are moral documents,” Erica Fein, Win Without War’s senior Washington director, said in a statement. “Spending $753 billion on weapons and war while our communities starve, while the climate crisis worsens, while a pandemic that has killed millions and affected countless more rages on, is a national shame. We call on Congress to reject this budget and the logic of ever-expanding Pentagon funding that produced it.”
“It’s time to get our priorities straight and finally prioritize people over the Pentagon,” Fein added.
Marcy Winograd, coordinator of CodePink Congress, warned Friday that the president’s “push for rearmament, including hundreds of new land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles and submarine mounted tactical nuclear weapons, comes amid concern the Biden administration’s heated anti-China rhetoric and policies could plunge us into a nuclear war.”
“There is no law of gravity, however, that compels President Biden or Congress to continue funding the drive for nuclear rearmament or global omnicide,” Winograd added.
Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) were among the first Democratic lawmakers to speak out against Biden’s proposed $753 billion military budget, which amounts to a 1.7% increase from the fiscal year 2021 figure.
In a joint statement, the Democratic lawmakers slammed the proposed $13 billion increase in military spending as “a failure that doesn’t reflect our country’s actual needs.”
“In the last year, the biggest threat to our nation was a global pandemic and we were drastically unprepared for it. Now, we’re proposing a defense spending increase that alone is 1.5 times larger than the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s entire $8.7 billion budget,” Lee and Pocan said. “The Pentagon cannot even pass an audit, why on earth would we throw another $13 billion at an agency filled with fraud, waste, and little to no oversight?”
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.), chair of the nearly 100-member Congressional Progressive Caucus, also spoke out against Biden’s Pentagon proposal.
“While we enthusiastically support the significant increase in discretionary domestic investments included in the budget, progressives also believe it is essential to reduce the president’s request for increased funding for an already-bloated $740 billion Pentagon budget,” Jayapal said in a statement Friday.
“At a time when America’s military budget is larger than those of the next ten countries combined,” the Washington Democrat added, “we believe it is essential to identify and cut military waste, fraud, and abuse in the budgetary process.”