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Progressives decry ‘hypocrisy’ as House panel adds $37 billion to Biden's record Pentagon budget

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
A view of the Pentagon, the headquarters building of the United States Department of Defense.

Progressives have expressed outrage after a House panel approved a proposal to boost US President Joe Biden's already record-breaking budget request for the Pentagon.

The US House Armed Services Committee voted 42-17 on Wednesday to back an amendment, introduced by Rep. Jared Golden (D-Maine), to tack an additional $37 billion on top of the $773 billion Pentagon budget proposed by the White House.

“We need only look to world events in Ukraine, read reports regarding China’s plans and actions in the South China Sea, or simply read the latest headline about Iranian nuclear ambitions and North Korean missile tests, as well as ongoing terrorist threats, in order to see why this funding is necessary,” Golden said during the House’s markup of the bill.

In March, President Biden put forward his request for a record peacetime military spending of $813 billion-- $773 billion of which was earmarked for the Pentagon.

About $40 billion of Biden's budget request would pay for other national security programs at the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Department of Energy and other federal agencies.

The Wednesday vote paved the way for a Pentagon budget of at least $810 billion for the 2023 fiscal year after the Senate Armed Services Committee already added another $45 billion to its version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

The amendment, which includes $2.5 billion to help pay higher fuel costs and $550 million for Ukraine, passed the House committee as more than a dozen Democrats joined Republicans in calling for higher military spending.

Progressives reacted with disgust to the move, pointing to the “hypocrisy” of lawmakers who are working to increase military spending at a time when American families are facing record-high inflation and gas prices.

"Today members of the House Armed Services Committee put the demands of the military-industrial complex over the needs of the American people yet again," Public Citizen president Robert Weissman said in a statement.

"Granting $37 billion to a war machine that can't even pass an audit while saying that we 'can't afford' what American families and communities need is quintessential hypocrisy," he added.

A handful of progressive lawmakers who voted against the amendment also laid out why they are against boosting the military budget.

In remarks delivered from the House floor on Wednesday, Rep. Sara Jacobs, Democrat from California, called Golden’s proposal "unconscionable," stressing that "there are simply not military solutions to every problem."

Rep. Ro Khanna also explained why he voted against the amendment.

"There is no country in the world that is putting over half its discretionary budget into defense and I would rather for us to be the preeminent economy of the 21st century by investing in the health of our people, in the education of our people, in the industries of the future," the Democrat from California said.

The House version of the bill sits just below the record-shattering spending level approved by senators last week, which would bring the total proposed budget to a staggering $857.6 billion.

The Senate version includes a topline budget of $847 billion—$817 billion of which is earmarked for the Pentagon. An additional $10.6 billion in national military spending falls outside the Senate panel's jurisdiction.

Last year, Congress authorized $778 billion in military spending, $25 billion more than requested by President Biden.



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