Sanders expresses ‘serious concerns’ with Biden’s defense increase

Sanders expresses ‘serious concerns’ with Biden’s defense increase

Senate Budget Committee Chairman Bernie SandersBernie SandersOVERNIGHT ENERGY:  Intel community warns of fragile future shaped by pandemics, climate change | Haaland meets with Utah politicians, tribes as Biden weighs monument change | Biden admin could decide whether to wade into DAPL fight Twitter will not allow Trump account archive on platform McConnell looking for Democratic defections on .25 trillion infrastructure plan MORE (I-Vt.) expressed “serious concern” Friday over President BidenJoe BidenAnne Frank’s stepsister: Trump ‘obviously admired Hitler’ Biden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start We must stop cutting China slack on climate MORE‘s proposed $12.3 billion increase in defense spending.

“At a time when the U.S. already spends more on the military than the next 12 nations combined, it is time for us to take a serious look at the massive cost over-runs, the waste and fraud that currently exists at the Pentagon,” Sanders said.

Sanders’s words carry extra weight given his position at the head of the Budget Committee and as a progressive leader in the Democratic Party. 

He joins a slew of progressives in speaking out against the proposed 1.7 percent boost in defense spending.

“We need a fundamental shift in how we address national security issues and invest in climate action and pandemic response,” said Rep. Ro KhannaRohit (Ro) KhannaLawmakers express horror at latest Capitol attack Biden risks first major fight with progressives Ocasio-Cortez endorses Turner in Ohio special election MORE (D-Calif.), calling the proposal “disappointing” and noting that it is well above defense spending levels at the end of the Obama administration.

“Those are the issues impacting the security of the American people and will keep Americans safer than spending billions on more deadly weapons.”

Biden Friday morning proposed a defense budget of $753 billion and a nondefense budget of $769 billion for the 2022 fiscal year, which begins in October.

Progressives including Sanders praised the 16 percent increase Biden laid out for nondefense spending, with particular focuses on education and health.

But their critiques on defense spending demonstrate tough battles ahead for Biden.

While progressives called for slashing military spending by 10 percent, Republicans slammed Biden for proposing a figure that is, in inflation-adjusted terms, relatively stagnant.

“President Biden’s budget proposal cuts defense spending, sending a terrible signal not only to our adversaries in Beijing and Moscow, but also to our allies and partners,” read a joint statement by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellBiden-GOP infrastructure talks off to rocky start On The Money: Pelosi wants infrastructure done by August | Powell warns US is reopening to a ‘different economy’ | McConnell vs. Big Business Trump blasts Arkansas GOP governor over veto of transgender bill MORE (R-Ky.), Senate Armed Services Committee ranking member James InhofeJames (Jim) Mountain InhofeSenate Republicans voice opposition to Biden on Iran Congress looks to rein in Biden’s war powers Pentagon official: Trump’s Somalia withdrawal ‘probably’ had ‘significant downsides’ MORE (R-Okla.), Senate Intelligence Committee Vice Chairman Marco RubioMarco Antonio RubioFour players lead Florida’s golden age of Republican dominance Senate Republicans voice opposition to Biden on Iran Republican battle with MLB intensifies MORE (R-Fla.), Senate Budget Committee ranking member Lindsey GrahamLindsey Olin GrahamBiden to announce executive action on ghost guns, red flag laws DNC chair: We have to ‘battle the damage to the Democratic brand’ Lawmakers say fixing border crisis is Biden’s job MORE (R-S.C.), and Senate Appropriations Committee Vice Chairman Richard ShelbyRichard Craig ShelbyThe Hill’s Morning Report – Biden: Let’s make a deal on infrastructure, taxes Alabama Secretary of State rules out 2022 Senate bid after admitting to extramarital relationship Trump endorses Mo Brooks for Senate in Alabama MORE (R-Ala.).

“Cutting America’s defense budget completely undermines Washington Democrats’ tough talk on China and calls into question the administration’s willingness to confront the Chinese Communist Party,” they said.

Biden will need GOP support to pass any of the 12 appropriations bills that fund the government.