Senate Dems unveil $850 billion defense spending proposal

The Senate Appropriations Committee is proposing $850 billion in total national defense spending for fiscal year 2023, as part of its nearly $1.7 trillion spending package unveiled Thursday.

The bulk of the funds would come from the proposed defense authorization bill which would appropriate $792.1 billion for the Department of Defense, $63.6 billion above what was enacted for fiscal year 2022.

A separate $317 billion appropriations bill would allocate roughly $16.6 billion to military construction projects.

Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-Vt.), chairman of the Senate Appropriations Committee, said in a statement that the bill “modernizes our armed forces to address the evolving threats of the 21st Century, ensuring the Defense Department is able to compete with China and other adversaries across the globe.”

 “It includes additional funds to help address the consequences of inflation, which has impacted government programs at every level – both defense and non-defense,” he added.

But Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Ala.) separately said that the bill falls short of the defense spending levels that Senate Armed Services Committee proposed in the National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2023.

That measure, which the committee approved in June, authorizes $47 billion for total defense spending, but $817 billion would be authorized for the Pentagon.

The Senate’s appropriations proposal is the highest proposal offered for defense spending.

The House Appropriations Committee advanced a bill in late June which would appropriate $761 billion for the Department of Defense. Meanwhile, the lower chamber’s $840 billion version of the National Defense Authorization Act passed earlier this month.

The upper chamber’s appropriations bill includes $53 billion to address higher inflation for acquisition programs and higher compensation costs, and another $10 billion to address price increases caused by rising inflation.

The measure allocates $4.7 billion to upgrade outdated infrastructure, as well as $1.4 billion to expand the capacity of the defense industrial base and supporting supply chains across multiple munitions programs.

The bill also fully funds a 4.6 percent pay raise for troops and $100 million for the Baltic Security Initiative –which funds security cooperation with Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania.