Fighting for a U.S. federal budget that prioritizes peace, economic security and shared prosperity
The Biden administration recently released an astronomical spending request for the military, in addition to large requests for police and other forces of state violence. Now, Republicans are pushing back by calling for even more state-violence-related dollars, even as they propose legislation that would severely slash survival-level necessities like food assistance, education, child care, cancer and Alzheimer’s research, affordable housing and rail safety.
As Congress holds a slew of hearings on the budget during this month and next, it’s crucial to challenge both Biden’s violence-heavy budget and the Republicans’ even-worse proposals — and to demand an entirely different path.
By nearly any measure, Biden’s $886 billion military budget request for fiscal year 2024 is sky-high. “We are talking about a historically massive sum of money,” Stephen Miles, president of Win Without War, told me. “The only time that we’ve given the Pentagon more money than is currently proposed, in our entire history since World War II, is the absolute peak of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.” That’s based on numbers adjusted for inflation.
Biden’s proposed military budget, which accounts for the majority of the federal discretionary budget, amounts to $69 billion more than last year’s request. And as National Priorities Project Program Director Lindsay Koshgarian points out, “Congress will in all likelihood raise Pentagon and war spending for next year higher than the Biden request.” Indeed, Khury Petersen-Smith describes a recent pattern in which Congress consistently demands even more for the military than the military itself is asking for. The president’s yearly request is based on a sprawling wish list from the Pentagon — but Congress regularly deems the Pentagon’s astronomical requests to be insufficient and adds even more items to that list. “To be clear about the kind of commitment to U.S militarism that exists in Washington: Congress is outdoing the Department of Defense,” Peterson-Smith said recently on the Transnational Times podcast.
This year, the “national defense” budget could end up totaling up to $950 billion after congressional add-ons. Clearly — and terrifyingly — we are not that far from the day when the U.S. will see a $1 trillion military budget.