A Strong Rebuke of Progressive Defense-Cuts Proponents | National Review

A Strong Rebuke of Progressive Defense-Cuts Proponents | National Review


A Navy EA-18G aircraft assigned to Naval Aviation Warfighting Development Center at Naval Air Station Fallon, Nev., takes off during a U.S. Air Force Weapons School integration exercise at Nellis Air Force Base, Nev., June 2, 2021. (William R. Lewis/USAF)

The House Armed Services Committee just approved a $23.9 billion addition to the U.S. defense budget on top of the $715 billion President Joe Biden had requested, bucking his lowball request and progressives who had called for defense-spending cuts.

The committee’s approval of the measure doesn’t come as much of a surprise, since Republicans have been united against Biden’s low request, which slightly cut defense spending in real terms, and a few Democrats have expressed similar skepticism. “The bipartisan adoption of my amendment sends a clear signal: the President’s budget submission was wholly inadequate to keep pace with a rising China and a re-emerging Russia,” said Representative Mike Rogers, the committee’s top Republican and author of the amendment.

But the debate about the budget was illuminating nonetheless, demonstrating that congressional progressives don’t have nearly enough sway to get their way on defense issues. At least 14 of the committee’s Democrats supported the amendment, according to Politico.

Representative Ro Khanna, one of the panel’s sole progressive voices, panned the proposal during the debate that preceded today’s vote.

“My question is simple: If we are getting out of Afghanistan and we have money, why are we spending this 23.9 billion on increasing defense as opposed to, for example, giving the money to all our veterans who served in Afghanistan for 20 years?” said the California Democrat. “Why wouldn’t that be a better use of the money? Or, my Republican colleagues who’ve spoken eloquently about our obligation to our Afghan allies and to Afghan refugees, why not spend the money on resettling them, or helping with their evacuation?”

Khanna expressed frustration that unified Democratic control of government wouldn’t yield defense-spending cuts.

“If we don’t stand up now to make sure that we are not increasing the defense budget beyond what Trump wants, what good is it to control both chambers and the presidency?”

Ahead of the markup, Representatives Mark Pocan and Barbara Lee, co-chairs of the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus, mounted a last bid push to dissuade their colleagues on Armed Services from boosting the defense budget, arguing that the end of the war in Afghanistan marked an opportunity to cut defense spending.

“America spends more on its military than the next 11 largest defense-spending nations combined. This will remain true if the President’s budget request were enacted, and the ratio will only increase under the Senate’s proposal,” they and 25 of their colleagues wrote in a letter to House Armed Services Committee chairman Adam Smith on August 30.

Smith voted against the Rogers amendment, but 14 of his Democratic colleagues supported it, just as all but one of the members of the Senate Armed Services Committee did in July.

In the end, they joined with Republicans to reject a hackneyed talking point that fails to find any basis in America’s security needs. Their vote was a powerful rebuke of the defense cuts caucus’s — and the president’s — position.





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About the Author

Tony Beasley
Tony Beasley writes for the Local News, US and the World Section of ANH.