Today, the president is expected to sign into law a giant spending package to fund government operations for the rest of fiscal year 2022. The legislation, which places President Joe Biden’s first stamp on the federal budget, will boost Pentagon spending to $782 billion. This massive amount includes $743 billion for the Department of Defense and nuclear weapons programs under the Energy Department and military construction programs. An additional $6.5 billion in military assistance to Ukraine was also included in the package.
The legislation, which places President Joe Biden’s first stamp on the federal budget, will boost Pentagon spending to $782 billion.
The Pentagon total marks a nearly $29 billion increase from the Biden administration’s original request of $753 billion. The boost comes after months of pressure from more hawkish policy voices who argued that more money was needed to compete with China and Russia. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has only added to those pressures.
The legislation also includes full funding for a host of dangerous nuclear weapons and warheads that FCNL has lobbied against. This includes full funding for the Sea Launched Nuclear Cruise Missile, the B83 gravity bomb, and upgrades to land-based nuclear weapons systems in the midwest. Unless the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review recommends a change—and Congress agrees—the United States is still slated to spend nearly $2 trillion on nuclear weapons upgrades over the next 30 years.
FCNL’s efforts to prevent wasteful Pentagon spending
FCNL has worked for many years in coalition with a wide range of peace groups, faith-based organizations, and budget watchdogs to cut excessive Pentagon spending and end wasteful and dangerous weapons programs.
We deplored the congressional decision to add more money to President Biden’s FY2022 military budget and encouraged congress to prioritize financial assistance and recovery for communities facing the most devastating impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic.
More recently, we joined 85 organizations in a letter to the administration, demanding cuts to the Pentagon budget:
True national security will not be achieved by pouring more money into military might. Rather, the people of this country require serious, non-military investments to be truly secure, such as pandemic relief, jobs, healthcare, and climate crisis solutions. This is why many of our groups and the activists we represent have spent the last year tirelessly fighting to strengthen the Build Back Better package and make the case for meaningful social programs…This year alone, three-quarters of a trillion dollars slid through Congress with minimal resistance, all while legislators penny-pinched over items like paid family leave, subsidizing school lunches, free community college, and providing dental care to seniors.
Biden’s opportunity to change course
The war in Ukraine, and the subsequent push to prioritize weapons and militarized support in the U.S. response, have made this a challenging moment for those who advocate for nonviolence. However, if the massive anti-war protests in Russia prove anything, it’s that this is precisely the moment that the anti-war voice needs to be the most vocal and disruptive.
When our country spends countless dollars on war without sparing even a relative dime for peace, it has lost its way.
If all the trillions of dollars we’ve spent on building up U.S. military defenses over the years aren’t sufficient to deal with this crisis, then what has the money been used for? President Biden has carefully resisted many irresponsible calls to escalate and broaden the war, such as establishing a no-fly zone and delivering Polish fighter jets to Ukraine via a U.S. airbase in Germany. We applaud his leadership and urge Congress to keep diplomacy and humanitarian aid at the top of the agenda.
Each year the federal budget and appropriations process gives us a new opportunity to evaluate our priorities as a nation. When our country spends countless dollars on war without sparing even a relative dime for peace, it has lost its way.
The FY2022 appropriations bills put far too much emphasis on Pentagon spending. Your members of Congress will face the question of whether to add more money to the Pentagon’s already excessive and unaccountable budget soon, as the process to establish spending for 2023 begins. Your advocacy can make a difference in whether Congress will reject these proposals.