by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Congressional defense hawks say the only cuts to the defense budget that will be considered will be to “woke” programs, saying cuts to the Pentagon would be disastrous as the United States faces down a Russian war in Ukraine and Chinese threats to invade Taiwan.
“As Russia wages war on Ukraine and China eyes a similar move on Taiwan, I can’t think of a worse time to cut defense spending than now,” Rep. Mike Gallagher (R., Wis.), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, which oversees America’s $400 billion defense budget, told the Washington Free Beacon. Gallagher and other Armed Services Committee leaders, including chairman Mike Rogers (R., Ala.), told the Washington Free Beacon there is zero appetite among the majority of House Republicans to roll back the Pentagon’s budget.
As part of concessions to a small group of Republican holdouts during the House speakership fight, Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) reportedly agreed to some $130 billion in spending cuts that are expected to impact even traditionally insulated agencies like the Defense Department. The agreement has given rise to concerns the Pentagon’s budget could be frozen in place, preventing it from expanding war-fighting priorities amid rising demands due to the war in Ukraine.
McCarthy has said he would only cut the Defense Department’s spending on “wokeism” and other projects not impacting war-fighting capabilities. Others, such as Rep. Jim Jordan (R., Ohio), said “everything has to be on the table” as the 2023 budget is made. But those with the most power over the Pentagon’s budget said they will prevent any cuts that negatively impact an already strained fighting force.
The Biden administration’s push to foster a more sensitive environment across the U.S. military has been under Republican scrutiny since the president took office.