President Joe Biden is expected to request Congress to allocate over $770,000,000,000 for defense for fiscal year 2023, according to anonymous sources, as first reported by Reuters.
This would be at least $17 billion higher than the defense budget requested by the Biden administration for 2022, which was already colossal. Biden’s request is also much higher than the $740 billion that Trump requested for 2021 and the $639 billion that Trump requested for 2018 during his first year in office.
Officials are still negotiating the final amount, the sources said, meaning that the budget could end up changing in the coming months. The budget for the Pentagon is roughly in line with what Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin has requested, and the overall budget would be used for salaries, nuclear weapons programs, tanks and Lockheed Martin’s F-35 aircraft.
Defense contractors Northrop Grumman, General Dynamics Corp. and others would also benefit greatly, Reuters reported.
Though $770 billion is already sky-high, the budget may end up being even higher by the time it gets passed by Congress later in the year, one source said. Indeed, in 2021, Congress ended up adding several billion more on top of Biden’s request for fiscal year 2022, bringing the total to a whopping $778 billion.
While the defense budget balloons, the rest of Biden’s agenda has died in the Senate due to the concerns of so-called budget hawks saying that $350 billion a year for crucial social spending to save many lower- and middle- income Americans from financial ruin, as progressives had suggested in the Build Back Better Act, is too expensive.
Provisions to address actual national threats like the climate crisis have also been put on the backburner, with billions of dollars for renewable technologies and other measures put in limbo thanks to conservative Democrats’ rejection of the Build Back Better Act.
Hundreds of billions of dollars of the reportedly proposed budget will go to the Pentagon, which has never once passed an audit and has a history of losing track of hundreds of millions of dollars. The country is currently not officially engaged in any wars, though rampant U.S. militarism still continues throughout the world. Meanwhile, a huge portion of the budget will also likely end up in the hands of private defense contractors, who in turn make billions in profits each year.
In the 20 years following 9/11, the U.S. has spent $21 trillion on militarization at home and abroad.
$21 trillion could have funded nationwide renewables, millions of jobs, erased student debt, and more—but instead, just caused suffering around the world.
No one wins in war.
— Institute for Policy Studies (@IPS_DC) February 16, 2022
The news comes just after the Biden administration announced, in the wake of the U.S.’s withdrawal from Afghanistan, that it is freezing $7 billion of the country’s frozen reserves that are held in U.S. banks and redistributing half of them to 9/11 victims rather than giving them to Afghan families in need. The U.S. has had a direct role in humanitarian crises in Afghanistan, and the decision was condemned by advocacy groups. None of the planners or 9/11 hijackers were Afghan; and progressives, like Rep. Ilhan Omar, have noted that “Even if this weren’t the case, punishing millions of starving people] for these crimes is unconscionable.”
“This decision is short sighted, cruel, and will serve to worsen a catastrophe in progress, affecting millions of Afghans, many of whom are on the verge of starvation,” Afghans For A Better Tomorrow said. “Let us be clear: all of the $7.1 billion in reserves belongs, rightfully, to the people of Afghanistan and ought to be used to allow the Central Bank of Afghanistan (or Da Afghanistan Bank, DAB) to perform its basic functions.”
News of the potential budget request also comes as the escalating Ukraine-Russia conflict remains unresolved. On Tuesday, Biden said that he plans to approach the situation with diplomacy, but also said that the U.S. is “ready to respond decisively” in the event of an attack. Public intellectual Noam Chomsky has observed that the U.S. has already been “vigorously fanning the flames” of conflict.