A group of Democrats on the House Armed Services Committee broke with others in the party with a vote to approve $25 billion in increased defense spending, Fox News reported Wednesday.
The vote represents a blow to the Biden administration and progressives on Capitol Hill who want to trim the defense budget following the end of the Afghanistan war.
Of course, the overall legislation approved by the committee included leftist agenda items such as adding women to the military draft and establishing the Pentagon Office of Countering Extremism.
Members of the panel discussed the measure until the early morning hours on Thursday and the amendment ultimately passed with the support of 14 Democratic lawmakers. The Senate Armed Services Committee already approved a $25 billion defense spending bump.
It is clear that the Afghanistan war cast a heavy shadow over the budget debate with amendments added to approve inquiries into the White House’s decisions before and during a chaotic evacuation effort in recent weeks.
For his part, the president has maintained that the nearly two-decade conflict no longer served the national interest and that the Pentagon must pivot to current threats from Russia and China.
Rep. Mike Rogers (R-AL), on the other hand, asserted that Biden’s proposed $715 billion budget was “wholly inadequate” to fund that mission.
Rogers, who proposed the budget increased, explained: “I hope this bipartisan, and now bicameral, move is understood by the Biden-Harris administration. The defense of our nation will not be shortchanged by Congress.”
Although moderate Democrats seem to be on roughly the same page as most Republicans, some argue that the Afghanistan debacle has highlighted a need to further scrutinize defense spending.
“It’s remarkable to me that as we end our long and expensive campaign in Afghanistan, so many are concluding that what we need is more war, more weapons, and billions of dollars more than even what the Pentagon is asking for,” said Rep. Sara Jacobs (D-CA).
As for the progressive elements of the bill, they passed over muted opposition by Republicans on the committee.
It appears that the military is poised to grow in size while offering a victory for proponents of so-called woke politics. It remains to be seen whether this will be a recipe for long-term success.