The Council for a Livable World condemns the vote by the House Armed Services Committee to increase the 2022 Pentagon Budget topline by $23.9 billion, and urges Members of Congress to reject this topline increase later this month when the National Defense Authorization Act comes before the full House floor. On behalf of the Council for a Livable World, Executive Director and former Congressman John Tierney released the following statement:
“Too many Armed Services Committee members continue to be captive to the military-industrial complex that would have us spend endless taxpayer money on non-critical military expenditures without any concern for maintaining a responsible budget. If anyone tried to add funding for education, housing or health items that were not requested in a department’s base budget, every ‘budget hawk’ in Congress would be screaming.
Although $23.9 billion may not seem like a huge number during times when budgets are routinely measured in trillions, this is a telling indicator of what has gone wrong in the budget process that has led to reckless mismanagement of our tax dollars. This increase does little more than fund projects that the Defense Department could not justify in its base budget request — making a mockery of the budgetary process — and will in turn put less pressure on the services to make necessary choices that balance efficiency and taxpayer dollars with national security priorities.
The United States is set to spend more on defense next year than the next 14 countries combined, including our biggest military rivals in China and Russia. We are already spending more on defense than during the peaks of the Vietnam and Korean Wars. And yet, the Pentagon still asks for more while being unable to complete a budgetary audit. Billions of taxpayer dollars are wasted every year on maintaining redundant systems and paying defense contractors for products and services that regularly come in late and over budget. Clearly, we cannot overcome our challenges by throwing more money at them.
This move seems wildly at odds with our national priorities as President Joe Biden puts an end to the forever wars, and seeks to confront new challenges we face such as pandemic preparedness and cybersecurity. It raises serious questions about how Congress is approaching U.S. national security strategy. How can it be that in a year in which we are ending America’s longest war, we are set to spend more on defense and not less? Why, for example, should Congress pay for the Department of Defense to maintain ships that the Navy wants to retire?
Congress owes the American people real accountability in how their tax dollars are spent, and this measure does not provide that.
We look forward to working with Members of Congress who feel as strongly as we do that continuous increases to the already bloated national defense budget are unsustainable, and that no American will be made safer by buying more weapons than even the Pentagon thinks we need.
We must move away from the belief that the only way to make America stronger is to spend more on an already superior military, and instead spend wisely on our military and begin to invest in our future and national defense by supporting American energy, education and infrastructure. The American people deserve better than this.”