Military Spending Emerges as Big Dispute in Debt-Limit Talks

Republicans are calling for waivers of the Pentagon spending cap and deep cuts to domestic programs such as education, and military funding is on the rise in reaching a deal to raise the nation’s borrowing limit and prevent a catastrophic default. It is an important neck.

President Biden has frowned on the request, pointing to a series of past long-term budget deals that cut or increase military spending alongside non-defence discretionary programs.

How both parties resolve this issue will be critical to the final outcome of the debt deal. To reach a deal that would prevent a default, Democrats could still accept a deal that would allow increased military spending even if non-defense spending declined or stayed the same.

Biden’s aides and Republicans in Congress, represented by Speaker Kevin McCarthy, are trying to negotiate a deal to remove the borrowing cap as early as June 1 before the government runs out of money to pay the bills on time. there is Republicans deny this. The cap could be raised unless Mr. Biden agrees to cut federal spending outside the military.

Discussions on spending cuts are focused on covering a relatively small portion of the budget, mainly so-called discretionary spending. That spending he splits into two parts. One is military funding, which the Congressional Budget Office estimates will total $792 billion this year. The other half is funded by a wide range of domestic programs such as Head Start Kindergarten and College Pell Grants, as well as federal agencies such as the Department of the Interior and the Department of Energy. The budget office estimates that this year’s total will be $919 billion.

Another category, known as mandatory spending, is largely considered prohibited in negotiations. Major drivers of future spending growth include programs such as Social Security and Medicare.

Administration officials have proposed freezing both halves of discretionary spending next year. This corresponds to a reduction in the budget compared to projected spending, based on how the Budget Office calculates spending levels. Spending on both parts of the discretionary budget will be allowed to increase by just 1% in FY2025. Since 1% is almost certainly below inflation, this could amount to a budget cut. The proposal would save about $1 trillion over 10 years, compared to current Budget Office projections.

Republicans rejected the plan at the negotiating table. They are ostensibly pushing for cuts in non-defense spending. That means the government will spend less next year than it spent this year. They also want to allow military spending to continue to grow.

Rep. Robert B. said, “This only sends a bad message and Republicans are not in their best interest to cut spending at this time of year given China, Russia and the many uncertainties around the world. I feel that,” he said. Aderholt, an Alabama Republican who serves on the Appropriations Committee that oversees Pentagon spending. “That’s the basic position of most Republicans.”

McCarthy made similar remarks when speaking to reporters on Thursday. “You see, we are always looking for where our savings and other money are, but we live in a very dangerous world,” he said. “I think the Pentagon should actually have more resources,” he added.

Republicans passed a bill last month that included a 10-year cap on discretionary spending and raised the debt ceiling until next year, but party leaders said they would exempt the military from the cap. Biden has said he would veto the bill if it passes the Senate in its current form, but that is unlikely.

White House officials have accused Republicans of focusing the proposed discretionary savings on domestic programs, saying the bill would cut border patrols, care for some veterans and cars for the elderly. He said it would cut spending on meals and many other popular programs.

“House Republicans have been very clear about what’s to come and how the proposed 22% cuts to veterans, health care and public safety will hurt families in America,” said Karine, who is white. Mr Jean-Pierre said. A House spokesman said earlier this month:

Congressional Democrats, including members of the committee that oversees military spending, have attacked the Republican Party’s primary focus on programs other than defense.

“If you’re going to freeze discretionary spending, there’s no reason on earth why you shouldn’t include defense in that discussion,” said Rep. Adam Smith of Washington, the top Democrat on the Armed Services Committee. He said the Republican Party “is taking hostages for pushing very narrow policies. I’m not a fan of that. That’s not what I want to stand for.”

A deal to increase military spending while freezing or cutting other discretionary spending would break with the tradition of budget deals since 2011, when House Republicans refused to raise the debt ceiling until President Barack Obama agreed to cut spending. It will be. The deal that avoided a default centered around spending caps. divide the reduction evenly Between defense and non-defense programs.

The move to increase the war budget while making more drastic cuts in other areas reflects a split in the House GOP caucus. The organization includes a large faction of defense hawks who say the military budget is too small, and a large faction of spending hawks who want to drastically cut federal spending.

McCarthy needs the cooperation of both factions to maintain his presidency, but this year he narrowly won after a week of trying to win votes. And he will have to juggle both if he tries to pass a debt-saving deal with Mr. Biden in the House.

Katie Edmonson contributed to the report.

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