Senate Quietly Adds $10 Billion to Pentagon Budget While Blocking Climate Action

The 2022 budget for the Defense Department adds an extra $10 billion on top of the already colossal $715 billion that the Pentagon requested, according to a version of the bill that Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Patrick Leahy (D-Vermont) unveiled on Monday.

With amendments and other funding, this brings the total of 2022 appropriations for the Pentagon and defense-related spending to a whopping $778 billion — 5 percent more than the amount that was appropriated for the 2021 fiscal year. Last month, the House passed a $768 billion budget for defense.

The $10 billion tacked onto the bill with little fanfare from lawmakers or the media. But even just a relatively small amount added to the defense budget is a significant amount in other contexts.

Over ten years, the addition would total to $100 billion — the same amount of funding for vital climate programs that Sen. Kyrsten Sinema (D-Arizona) wants to cut from the Build Back Better Act, or about two-thirds of the cost of the climate program that deficit hawk Sen. Joe Manchin (D-West Virginia) also wants to cut.

Though the defense budget is already unfathomably large, Republicans aren’t satisfied with the Pentagon budget’s growth, Roll Call reports. Republicans like Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Kentucky) have asked for equal increases to defense and nondefense spending; and with increases to programs like child care and preventing violence against women, the Republicans say that the increase to the defense budget should be closer to the 14 percent that they say has increased in the nondefense spending.

This is a somewhat absurd request considering the huge amount of money already being added to the defense budget annually — especially in a year when the country purportedly pulled out of its longest war. Last year, Congress authorized about $740 billion for the Pentagon, meaning that this years’ additions alone would total about $38 billion if passed into law. If the $38 billion were locked in for the next decade, it would total about 10 percent of the proposed spending for the reconciliation bill, just in increases to the defense budget.

While the reconciliation bill — which would provide funding to mitigate the climate crisis and support middle- and lower-class families in the U.S. — has been a subject of bitter debate over the past months, the defense budget — which helps fund defense contractor profits — typically enjoys bipartisan support.

Sinema and Manchin, for instance, have complained repeatedly about the reconciliation bill’s price tag, totalling $3.5 trillion over ten years and completely offset by taxes on corporations and the wealthy, amongst other proposals.

But they’ve been quiet about the defense budget, which would cost more than double what the reconciliation bill would cost if it were extrapolated over ten years. Further, over the past decade, Manchin has approved $9.1 trillion for the defense budget, most of which goes towards the Pentagon, an agency that has never passed an audit.

The conservative Democrats’ double standard on spending also works toward their apparent quest to block any legislation to mitigate the climate crisis. Manchin and Sinema are fighting hard on behalf of fossil fuel lobbyists to cut climate portions of the reconciliation bill, which advocates say is the Democrats’ last chance of passing meaningful climate legislation before the 2022 midterms.

Meanwhile, Sinema and Manchin remain supportive of spending for the Pentagon, which emits a huge amount of greenhouse gases. A study in 2019 showed that, annually, carbon emissions from the military-industrial complex in the U.S. averages to about the amount of emissions put out by the Netherlands every year.