Senate panel backs $25 billion Pentagon budget boost

Senate panel backs $25 billion Pentagon budget boost

The Senate Armed Services Committee has approved a $25 billion boost to the defense budget in their annual spending bill — setting up a showdown with President Biden and House Democrats who pushed for a pared-down number.

The increase was announced as part of the $778 billion National Defense Authorization Act, a bill that has passed every Congress in the last 60 years, which the panel announced it had voted to advance Thursday evening.

The $778 billion price tag includes about $28 billion for Energy Department national security programs and $10 billion on defense activities at other agencies, leaving $740.3 billion for the Defense Department.

That number marks a $25 billion increase from the $715 billion requested by Biden, who is unlikely to be swayed to raise the military budget even more.

Almost certainly in Biden’s corner will be those to his left in the House and Senate, who have already bristled at the idea of upping the budget from what then-President Trump approved this past year.

The commander-in-chief is already boosting the budget from 2020, asking $753 billion compared to Trump’s ask of $740 billion last year, making the Senate measure even more of a surprise.

President Joe Biden
The Senate panel set up a showdown with Biden and House Democrats over the number.

Left-wing pols have largely been pushing for a 10 percent cut, something extremely unlikely to pass the House or Senate.

The White House and the Defense Department did not immediately respond to The Post’s requests for comment.

The Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, though Vice President Kamala Harris, as Senate president, has a tie-breaking vote. Still, 51 votes are not enough under current rules to break through the filibuster.

The legislative filibuster is the Senate rule requiring 60 members to end debate on most topics and move forward to a vote.

Troops from the U.S. Army 2nd Battalion
Left-wing pols have largely been pushing for a 10 percent cut.
Getty Images

In this Congress, Democrats need 10 Republicans to move any major legislation forward, though they can bypass the filibuster through budget reconciliation on certain bills.

Budget reconciliation would allow Democrats to pass spending for critical projects, but the process cannot be used to change or create laws.

As a result, passing this budget will require the House and Senate to come together and agree on the final text. That process will likely take months of negotiations between committee and party leadership, and be one of the final items to pass this year.

The NDAA also only allocates funding as opposed to authorizing it, meaning that the House and Senate Appropriations Committees would have to go along with updating the legislation to make the changes happen.

 Sen. Tim Kaine, D-Va
The Senate is split 50-50 between Republicans and Democrats, like Sen. Tim Kaine (D-Va.).
Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call/Sipa USA

Once this occurs, Democrats will need to work on convincing Republican senators to back the bill, as they won’t be able to pass the measure if they lose far-left support.

Republicans, meanwhile, have called for a three to five percent increase in the defense budget.

Chaired by Democrats, the Senate Armed Services Committee is evenly split between both parties, meaning GOP members supporting the effort are the ones who could be swayed into voting for Biden’s military budget.

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