Tester, Collins Support Raising Defense Budget; Austin, Brown Say Caps Forced Modernization Choices

May 9, 2024

Sens. Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Susan Collins (R-Maine), leaders of the defense appropriations subcommittee, made the case Wednesday for raising the amount of money available for defense spending. Last summer’s debt ceiling deal capped defense and non-defense spending levels.

“We must be clear-eyed that this budget request would represent a real cut in funding for the Department of Defense as it fails to keep pace with inflation,” Collins said at a hearing on the administration’s budget request, as Defense News reported.

“Let’s get a budget that works both near-term – and this one does work near-term – it’s the long-term stuff that’s going to get short-changed, and it’s going to cost more money the later we go,” Tester said.

Modernization Choices

Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Joint Chiefs Chair Air Force Gen. CQ Brown said during the hearing that spending caps led DOD to make choices in its budget request.

“We made tough but responsible decisions that prioritize near-term readiness, modernization of the joint force and support for our troops and their families,” Austin said. “Our approach dials back some of the near-term modernization for programs not set to come on line until the 2030s.”

Brown said DOD also wants to prioritize “a strong defense industrial base so we can produce those munitions and capabilities.”

‘In Flux’

Appropriators and other leaders are discussing the budget levels for the upcoming fiscal year.

“The negotiations on the budget caps are still in flux,” Tester said Wednesday.

Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patty Murray (D-Wash.) said last week that she will insist on “parity” between defense and non-defense spending if either is increased, as On Base reported.

DOD photo by Chad J. McNeeley

May 9, 2024

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