Republicans Call on Biden to Boost Pentagon Spending to Combat China

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The USS Ronald Reagan and USS Nimitz Carrier Strike Groups in the South China Sea.
The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) Carrier Strike Groups steam in formation, in the South China Sea, Monday, July 6, 2020. (Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jason Tarleton/U.S. Navy via AP)

Top House Armed Services Committee Republicans are calling for President Joe Biden to boost defense spending 3% to 5% above inflation to compete with a growing Chinese military.

"The Chinese Communist Party increased its defense spending by over 75 percent in the last decade," states a letter committee members wrote to Biden on Thursday. "The Chinese military has gone from an obsolete force barely able to defend its borders to a modern fighting force capable of winning regional conflicts."

The lawmakers cited the need to grow capabilities in cyber, space and naval warfare, and to modernize nuclear weapon capabilities. They called for Biden to "reject demands from many on the left to cut or freeze defense spending."

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The letter was penned by the ranking members of all seven House Armed Services subcommittees and led by Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the top Republican on the committee.

The push to hike defense spending potentially sets up a fight over federal spending, with progressives aiming to gut Pentagon funding in favor of domestic priorities and some Democrats aiming for a flat military budget.

Biden did predict to Stars and Stripes in September that the Pentagon's budget would likely creep up during his administration to boost emerging methods of warfighting.

Last month, Rhode Island Sen. Jack Reed, the top Democrat on the Senate Armed Services Committee, told reporters that he expects "tighter budgets going forward, more flat than rising" as the federal government juggles Defense Department modernization efforts to compete with near-peer threats by boosting cyber warfare and space capabilities after unprecedented spending for economic recovery efforts amid the pandemic.

Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., who chairs the Senate Budget Committee, vowed to combat fraud and waste at the DoD and has long sought to cut its budget by 10%.

"Military spending, now higher than the next 11 nations combined, represents more than half of all federal discretionary spending," Sanders said in a statement last year. "If the horrific pandemic we are now experiencing has taught us anything, it is that national security means a lot more than building bombs, missiles, jet fighters, tanks, submarines, nuclear warheads and other weapons of mass destruction."

-- Steve Beynon can be reached at Steve.Beynon@military.com. Follow him on Twitter @StevenBeynon.

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