The Pentagon plan includes new money for Ukraine, money for military aircraft and nuclear deterrence systems, and funding to counter other ‘persistent threats’
Photo: Aviation Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Alissa Sanchez signals to an AV-8B Harrier on the flight deck of the amphibious assault ship Essex. (MC2 Wesley Richardson/U.S. Navy)
WASHINGTON ― Defense Department spending would see a 4% increase in fiscal 2023 under a plan released by the White House on Monday, significantly above what administration officials wanted last year but likely not enough to satisfy congressional Republicans.
Administration officials said the $773 billion plan includes new money to help Ukraine in its fight against Russia, new investments in military aircraft and nuclear deterrence systems, and enough funding to counter “persistent threats including those posed by North Korea, Iran and violent extremist organizations.”
The total spending plan translates to an increase of more than $30 billion, or 4%, over the fiscal 2022 enacted level.
Last year, White House officials had asked for a boost of less than 3%, prompting a yearlong fight with Republicans and moderate Democrats who eventually added more to the Pentagon’s spending totals.
Even with the higher ask this year, that same debate is likely to repeat. Last week, 40 House and Senate Republicans pushed the White House to increase the national defense budget by at least 5%, in response to mounting inflation and growing worldwide threats.
In a statement, President Joe Biden called the proposed budget plan “one of the largest investments in our national security in history, with the funds needed to ensure that our military remains the best-prepared, best-trained, best-equipped military in the world.”
White House officials noted that if approved, the budget plan would amount to a 9.8% increase in defense spending in the last two years, providing “the resources necessary to sustain and strengthen U.S. deterrence [and] advancing our vital national interests.”
The budget invests in nuclear modernization, long-range fire capabilities, space resilience and the defense-industrial base, which the White House called a source of innovation and “good-paying jobs.” The budget also supports investments in key technologies, such as “microelectronics, casting and forging, and critical materials.”
“DOD plays a critical role in overall Federal research and development that spurs innovation, yields high-value technology, ensures American dominance over strategic competitors, and creates good-paying jobs,” the White House summary said. “The Budget prioritizes defense research, development, test, and evaluation funding to invest in breakthrough technologies that drive innovation, support capacity in the defense technology industrial base, ensure American technological leadership, and underpin the development of next-generation defense capabilities.”
The White House did not immediately make public its request for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which oversees the U.S. nuclear arsenal. It emphasized the budget’s investment in “a strong, credible nuclear deterrent, as a foundational aspect of integrated deterrence, for the security of the Nation and U.S. allies.”
Biden asked for $753 billion in overall defense and national security spending for FY22, but that was ultimately increased to $782 billion.
Though lawmakers did not specify a number, an analysis by Capital Alpha Partners’ Byron Callan noted the Republican target is likely $875 for overall defense and national security spending.
“We don’t dismiss the odds of an increase of this magnitude occurring but the final outcome may not be determined until 2023 for appropriations,” Callan said in a note to investors on Sunday.
Pentagon Comptroller Mike McCord and lawmakers have said they expect the Ukraine crisis to force future defense budgets higher. Defense officials have previously said the crisis could also alter America’s force posture in Europe.
Joe Gould is senior Pentagon reporter for Defense News, covering the intersection of national security policy, politics and the defense industry.
Leo covers Congress, Veterans Affairs and the White House for Military Times. He has covered Washington, D.C. since 2004, focusing on military personnel and veterans policies. His work has earned numerous honors, including a 2009 Polk award, a 2010 National Headliner Award, the IAVA Leadership in Journalism award and the VFW News Media award.