Pentagon spokesman Christopher Sherwood referred questions about the top-line budget number to the White House Office of Management and Budget, adding that the Pentagon “will provide additional information” once the levels are released. A spokesman for OMB did not immediately comment. Bloomberg first reported on the planned Pentagon topline.
By the numbers: Biden has largely been expected to request a fixed budget. The level of 715 billion. The dollar would mark a 1.5 percent increase in defense spending from the current year’s level, effectively making it an inflation-adjusted budget boost.
Although a slight increase from the current level, the top line would still be less than the Trump administration̵
The total number includes the Pentagon’s basic budget, but does not include the Department of Energy’s spending on nuclear weapons.
Money to deter China, Russia: The plan falls below the 3 to 5 percent boost that GOP lawmakers are pushing the White House to join. They argue that the reach placed by Pentagon leaders under the Trump administration is what is needed to adequately fund a military transformation to counter threats from China and Russia.
In the weeks leading up to the budget release, the top Republicans have put their offensive together and warned Biden against stagnant or reduced military spending and slammed Democrats seeking defense cuts.
The top Republicans on the Senate and House Armed Services Committees, Senator Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) And Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), Has stood for increases, while Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has warned that Biden’s seriousness in tackling China will be judged on how robust his military spending plan is.
Calls for cuts: Biden is also under pressure from his left to pursue aggressive cuts in the Pentagon budget and divert the money to diplomacy and domestic programs, which his party claims are more urgent.
Fifty House Democrats called on Biden in a letter last month to call for a “significantly reduced” Pentagon budget, arguing that the defense budget could be cut by up to 10 percent without affecting national security.
Lara Seligman contributed to this report.