Pentagon Spending


Congress and the Trump administration agreed to spend $738 billion on wars and the military for the fiscal year running through September 2020. That is nearly three-quarters of a trillion dollars. More than $2 billion every day. More than $1 million every minute.

Cockpit of an f-15

Matthew Bruch / U.S. Department of Defense

This money fuels America’s endless wars. Untold billions wasted on weapons and waging war has not eradicated violent extremism. The U.S. currently devotes roughly 7 cents on diplomacy, peacebuilding, and development aid for every dollar that it spends to prepare for and fight wars. When our country spends countless dollars on war without sparing even a relative dime for peace, it has lost its way. The American people overwhelmingly support investing in non-military war prevention tools. Our elected officials need to listen.

Where We Are

In inflation-adjusted terms, Congress is handing more taxpayer money to the Pentagon today than at the height of Vietnam War—and almost as much as the worst of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Even after the Pentagon spectacularly failed its first ever agency-wide financial audit in 2018, Congress agreed to allocate an additional $22 billion more on defense spending this fiscal year. To put that budget increase in context, $22 billion is more than the entire budget of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) or the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

As a key part of this obscene budgetary largesse, the Trump Administration wants taxpayers to start making down payments on a $1.2 trillion, 30-year bill to expand, extend, and improve America’s bloated Cold War nuclear weapons arsenal. Leading this dangerous and misguided project are current plans to unnecessarily replace and indefinitely prolong America’s risky silo-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), as well as deploy whole new varieties of “low-yield” warheads designed to make using a nuclear weapon easier.

What Can We Do?

Legislative Ask

Tell Congress: Reduce Pentagon Spending

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The best method to prevent further waste and war-fueling budgets is to simply cut the Pentagon’s topline. Cutting the overall Pentagon budget would force military leaders to start making hard choices about which programs and capabilities really matter.

As a start, there are some straightforward steps Congress can take to start reining in the military-industrial machine:

  • Bar any military spending increases until the Pentagon successfully passes its full financial audit—if it can’t keep track of what it has, why should it get more?
  • Ensure that, at a minimum, no more than a dollar gets spent on fighting war for every dime that is budgeted for building peace. This would represent a vast improvement compared to current spending.
  • Stop funding for the war in Afghanistan, saving $45-50 billion; cancel development and production of a new ICBM, saving $400 million in 2020; and reject the creation of a Space Force, saving $300-550 million.

Endless money fuels endless war, at the expense of needs like health care, housing assistance, environmental protection, diplomacy, and conflict prevention. It’s time for Congress to put the United States on a different path.