Congressman Ro Khanna of California was the first House Democrat to speak out Friday against President Joe Biden's request for a $715 billion Pentagon budget for Fiscal Year 2022, an increase from the current $704 billion level approved under former President Donald Trump.
"At a time when his own Treasury Secretary, Janet Yellen, recently criticized a federal budget that is basically 'military and pensions' without building our productivity capability here at home, it's disappointing that President Biden would propose a budget of $715 billion for the Pentagon, an increase of 1.6% over Trump's $704 billion budget, instead of working toward returning to the Obama-Biden era spending levels," Khanna said in a statement.
While applauding Biden's proposed elimination of the overseas contingency operations (OCO) account—an off-budget war funding pool that critics have decried as a "slush fund"—Khanna said he is "concerned that this budget will likely include other wasteful spending," such as money for new intercontinental ballistic missiles pushed by the powerful weapons lobby.
"We need a fundamental shift in how we address national security issues and invest in climate action and pandemic response," said Khanna, the deputy whip of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "Those are the issues impacting the security of the American people and will keep Americans safer than spending billions on more deadly weapons."
Biden just proposed a $715 billion budget for the Pentagon.
Trump’s budget was only $704 billion.
We should be returning toward Obama levels. Not pouring more money into price gouging defense contractors & wasteful projects. pic.twitter.com/ROgUPo0IbF
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— Rep. Ro Khanna (@RepRoKhanna) April 9, 2021
In total, Biden's FY2022 budget outline calls for $753 billion in overall military spending—including $715 billion for the Pentagon—and $769 billion for non-defense federal departments.
The Biden administration's document does not detail where it wants to send the $38 billion in military spending not earmarked for the Pentagon, but Defense News reported that "a large chunk of that is traditionally tied up in the National Nuclear Security Administration, a semiautonomous agency within the Energy Department that handles nuclear warheads."
On Friday afternoon, Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) joined Khanna in criticizing the president's first budget proposal, which came after progressive lawmakers and advocacy groups urged Biden to push for substantial cuts to out-of-control Pentagon spending.
"A proposed increase of $13 billion in defense spending is far too much," Pocan said in a statement. "We cannot build back better if the Pentagon's budget is larger than it was under Donald Trump."
"We recognize that non-defense spending has a proposed 16% increase, versus the 1.7% increase in defense spending," the Wisconsin Democrat added. "But increased spending on the Pentagon on fraud, waste, and zero accountability is still just that, and takes away from funding that could be spent on other people-centric policies like healthcare, education, and housing."