Fighting for a U.S. federal budget that prioritizes peace, economic security and shared prosperity
Last week, the White House released President Biden's request for $105 billion in military and related aid related to wars ongoing in Ukraine, Gaza, and wars not yet begun, as well as a request for additional border funding.
An extra $105 billion in mostly military spending is no small matter, especially on top of the $886 billion military budget that has been working its way through Congress this year. The new request calls for tens of billions in additional military aid for Ukraine, more than three times the typical annual military aid to Israel to continue their siege on Gaza, and billions more for border agencies that have seen their budgets grow remarkably over recent years.
Here's what's in the administration's request.
What's in the White House $105 Billion Military Bill?
Source: Office of Management and Budget.
The administration has touted the bill as providing billions for the military industrial base (read: Lockheed, Raytheon, and the rest). In keeping with that, we found that the administration's request would provide an additional $58 billion to the Pentagon, largely but not solely to support Ukraine and Israel in their wars. In the chart above, the majority of these funds appear under military aid designated for Ukraine and Israel. Military contractors stand to benefit from all of the proposed military aid, but especially from the $58 billion that would flow through the Pentagon.
In addition to Pentagon funding, the package includes $7.2 billion for direct military financing to Ukraine ($1.7 billion), Israel ($3.5 billion), and the Indo-Pacific ($2 billion). Less than $25 billion of the request is for non-military aid to Ukraine and Israel.
To date, the U.S. had approved $113 billion in aid to Ukraine, including $66 billion in military aid. The current proposal includes an additional $46 billion in military aid to Ukraine (including aid that passes through the Pentagon, as well as direct financing).
Combined with annual military aid to Israel of $3.8 billion (based on FY 23), the $13.9 billion request for military aid to Israel is equivalent to 75 percent of the total Israeli military budget ($23.6 billion in 2023). The $13.9 billion includes aid that passes through the Pentagon, as well as direct military financing. Israel's siege on Gaza has violated international law and denied the humanity of the 2 million residents of Gaza.
Anti-immigrant members of Congress have been demanding more militarization of the border, and this package would also deliver that. The request includes a combined $7.8 billion for Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), the agencies responsible for the detention and deportation of immigrants. The extra $7.8 billion would amount to a 30 percent increase for ICE and CBP, whose FY 23 budgets totaled $26.2 billion.
The administration justified the regular military budget, which at an estimated $886 billion for FY 2024 is one of the largest U.S. military budgets in history, in large part by the supposed need to counter China. But this request delivers additional money there, too. The request includes $2 billion for military aid in the Indo-Pacific and Taiwan, and $2 billion in development aid, in an attempt to buy favor from third-party countries in the government's anti-China crusade.
A final sweetener for members of Congress is a $3.4 billion request for shipbuilding and shipyards for the Navy. A pet cause for some members of Congress (who may or may not have shipyards or other interests in their districts), this is something that if it was a priority, should have fit into the $886-billion behemoth of a military budget. It isn't a necessary component of military aid. It's simply a gift to contractors and certain members of Congress to gain their support.
The administration also requested a separate domestic spending package to address urgent funding shortfalls for childcare and natural disaster relief, among other things. That request totaled $56 billion, just over half of the president's military spending request.
This isn't new, unfortunately. Our report on militarized federal spending found that in the 20-year response to 9/11, the U.S. added two dollars in militarized spending on war, deportations and detentions, and prisons and policing for every dollar added for domestic and international human needs and diplomacy.
The proposal is far from a slam dunk in Congress. With growing opposition to Ukraine aid on the right, and strong progressive opposition to Israel's siege of Gaza and harsh border policies on the left, the President's request must walk a careful line in order to pass Congress. That means there are opportunities to change those priorities.