On Monday, the Biden administration will request an $813.3 billion national security budget, which includes $773 billion for the Pentagon plus funding for nuclear programs in the Department of Energy and other defense-related activities.
The FY23 request is around $31 billion higher than the $782 billion FY22 national security budget recently signed into law, which itself was around $30 billion higher than the original FY22 request. The Pentagon’s portion of the request is around $43 billion, or 5.8 percent, higher than projected in the FY22 budget. However, it’s important to note that the FY22 projection was merely an inflation-adjusted placeholder, rather than a strategy-driven topline (due to the change in administration). However, the FY23 figure is also some $36 billion more than projected under the Trump administration’s FY21 budget request.
Defense hawks have long been calling for real annual growth of 3 to 5 percent. Republicans are already pushing for the upper limit, urging the administration to seek an FY23 budget that would provide 5 percent real growth over the $782 billion enacted for FY22. Onlookers will certainly be keeping an eye on inflation projections in the budget, bearing in mind that inflation rates for the Pentagon differ from consumer rates frequently cited in the media.
The request will include a total of $276 billion for modernization, broken out into $145.9 billion for procurement and $130 billion for research, development, test, and evaluation. The procurement budget is 9.2 percent higher than the $133.6 billion requested for FY22, but flat compared to the amount provided by Congress in the final FY22 defense spending bill.
The RDT&E request sets a new record, a fact that has been repeated in recent requests as the Pentagon tries to bolster its investment in advanced weapon systems in response to Chinese military modernization and Russian aggression. The $130.1 billion request for FY23 is 16.2 percent more than the FY22 request and 9.1 percent above the FY22 enacted level.
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