Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

pentagon

This picture taken on December 26, 2011 shows the Pentagon building in Washington, D.C. (Photo: Staff/AFP via Getty Images)

'Outrageous' and 'Shameful': House Panel Approves $37.5B Boost to Pentagon Budget

"Every congressperson who voted for this should be ashamed," said Win Without War's Erica Fein after 14 Democrats joined with Republicans to approve the amendment.

Jessica Corbett

With public awareness of U.S. war spending elevated in the wake of American troops exiting Afghanistan, a House of Representatives panel on Wednesday approved a $37.5 billion increase to the Pentagon budget from last year, angering progressive lawmakers and anti-war activists.

The House Armed Services Committee (HASC) voted 42-17 to approve Ranking Member Mike Rogers' (R-Ala.) amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022 (H.R. 4350). Fourteen Democrats joined with the panel's Republicans to support it.

As Common Dreams reported Tuesday, the NDAA amendment would add $25 billion to President Joe Biden's $753 billion topline military spending request for the next fiscal year—at a time when progressives are calling for bold investment in urgent human needs.

"Today, the House Armed Services Committee voted to put arms dealer profits before the needs of everyday people," Win Without War senior Washington director Erica Fein said Wednesday. "Let's not mince words: Every congressperson who voted for this should be ashamed."

The advocacy group called out the committee's Democrats and Republicans who voted for the amendment while also thanking those who spoke out and voted against it.

"Right now, people around the country are struggling to survive in the middle of a pandemic that has already taken the lives of millions," Fein said. "Right now, families are being thrown out of their homes because they can't afford rent. Right now, lives are being upturned in Louisiana, California, Tennessee, and beyond by the devastating effects of climate change."

"In the midst of all of this, HASC chose to spend tens of billions of dollars inflating the already bloated Pentagon budget and lining the pockets of wealthy arms-makers at the expense of working families," she continued. "It is astonishing that now, of all times, when we should be continuing to end our endless wars, HASC is doubling down on the same approach to national security we've seen fail for decades."

Fein, on behalf of her group, added that "we urge the full House to reject this dangerous Pentagon giveaway when it considers the NDAA later this month."

That call was echoed by members of the women-led anti-war group CodePink.

"A day after the United States withdrew from one of the most costly wars in history, the absolute LAST thing congressional representatives should be doing is increasing the Pentagon budget," said CodePink national co-director Carley Towne in a statement.

"Add to that the fact that we're facing Covid, an ongoing climate catastrophe, and a struggling economy and it's clearer than ever that we cannot allow our representatives to continue this costly and destructive forever war paradigm," Towne said. "We need to slash the Pentagon budget and invest in what will truly make us safe: healthcare, a Green New Deal, and public housing."

CodePink co-founder Medea Benjamin called Wednesday's vote "unbelievable."

"After wasting over $2 trillion on the Afghan fiasco, the House Armed Services Committee just voted to give the Pentagon $25 billion MORE than the enormous 2022 Pentagon budget Biden had asked for," she said. "Talk about corruption! Look no further than our Congress!"

William Hartung, director of Arms & Security Program at the Center for International Policy, noted that "Biden's proposed Pentagon budget was already at near-record levels before the House Armed Services Committee's reckless recommendation to add nearly $24 billion—higher than the peaks of the Korean or Vietnam wars or the Reagan buildup of the 1980s."

Arguing that "it is irresponsible to throw more money at the Pentagon at a time when the greatest risks to our security are not military in nature," Hartung pointed out that the billions in proposed additions to the "already bloated budget is over one and one-half times the entire annual budget of the Centers for Disease Control."

"If we're concerned about making America and the world safer, we should be investing more funds in addressing pandemics, climate change, and racial and economic injustice—not buying weapons we don't need at prices we can't afford," he said, calling the vote "good news for Raytheon, Lockheed Martin, and other big weapons contractors and bad news for the American public."

During the full committee markup for the NDAA, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) made his opposition to the GOP amendment clear and highlighted that such a proposal shouldn't be moving forward, considering that Democrats control both chambers of Congress and the White House.

HASC Chair Adam Smith (D-Wash.) also opposed the amendment but reiterated support for Biden's initial proposal—which progressive critics have argued for months is far too high.

Hartung said in April that "the Biden administration's decision to increase the Pentagon budget from near-record levels is both misguided and disappointing," while Fein called it "unconscionable."

Wednesday's committee vote provoked similarly scathing condemnation from Joseph Cirincione, a distinguished fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft, who took to Twitter to blast the move as "outrageous" and "strategically bankrupt."

"In a time of climate crisis, a raging pandemic, rampant racial injustice, and growing income inequity," he said, "Congress votes to increase the size of the trough for the arms dealers who fund their campaigns."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·


PG&E Charged With 11 Felony Counts—Including Manslaughter—Over 2020 Zogg Fire

"PG&E has a history with a repeated pattern of causing wildfires that is not getting better," said Shasta County District Attorney Stephanie Bridgett. "It's only getting worse."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo