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President to Request Small Increase in Defense Spending

Pentagon Budget
Pentagon Budget
Washington Report

President Joe Biden will ask for $753 billion in national security funding, an increase of about 1.6% over fiscal 2021, according to an outline unveiled Friday.

The fiscal 2020 budget request will include $715 billion for the Defense Department, which amounts to a slight decrease when adjusted for inflation. It is about $10 billion more than enacted 2021 budget levels.

Notably, Biden’s proposal would also end the use of an overseas contingency operations account, and instead move those funds back into the base budget.

OCO originally was intended to cover war costs. But in recent years, critics have said the account was a tool to skirt the standard budget process.

The White House has released only top-line discretionary spending numbers. A more detailed budget is expected in the coming months.

Biden’s budget proposal would boost nondefense spending by 16%, to $769 billion.

Administration officials said much of the defense increase will be used to cover an expected pay raise for service members. A federal formula used to calculate annual pay raises for members of the military reveals troops should expect a boost of about 2.7% starting next year.

The $753 billion national security top line includes $38 million for the National Nuclear Security Administration, which is part of the Energy Department.

The Defense Department portion of the budget has already drawn criticism from Republicans and progressive Democrats. Each have advocated in recent weeks for a larger, or smaller, defense budget.

Administration officials said the defense budget would drive plans to divest legacy systems and programs, moving resources from low- to high-priority programs, platforms and systems. No specifics were given ahead of the full budget request.

Programs supporting military families have also been prioritized in the plan.