US lawmakers granted the Department of Defense (DOD) more money than the Pentagon requested for in the fiscal 2022 defense budget, a recent Pentagon report shows.
In total, Congress sanctioned $58.55 billion in additional funds, according to the report. This includes $25.70 billion for operations and maintenance, $17.67 billion for procurement, $9.89 billion for research, development, test, and evaluation, $4.32 billion for military construction, and $947 million for military personnel.
The DOD initially had a base budget appropriation of $742.3 billion for fiscal 2022. As such, the extra $58.55 billion represents an almost 8 percent increase from the base budget. The Pentagon did not put in a request for any of the programs funded with the extra $58.55 billion.
These programs are not even in the so-called unfunded priorities lists—made up of items not included in the budget but considered critical—that departments and officers send to Congress annually.
For instance, roughly $4 billion was granted for half a dozen ships that were not on the unfunded priorities list. Similarly, the Navy received $900 million for a dozen Super Hornet jets, the Air National Guard got $1.8 billion to purchase 16 C-130J transport planes, and $460 million was granted for developing advanced jet engines. Over $2 billion in extra funds was appropriated for classified programs.
The $58.55 billion calculation only takes into account individual additions totaling $20 million or more. Since there are usually many spending hikes in the single-digit millions, the total actual excess funding will likely be higher.
In an email to Roll Call, Steve Ellis, president of Taxpayers for Common Sense, a government spending watchdog group, called for more efficient military budgets.
“Certainly Congress has the power of the purse, but considering the Pentagon got more than $750 billion that year, lawmakers could work within that generous budget to reflect their priorities … Instead, they dumped more than $50 billion across accounts for what appear to be in some cases very parochial interests.”
Since fiscal 2017, the Pentagon’s base budget has risen by 48 percent. The recently passed House version of the 2023 defense budget ups the funding received by the Pentagon, authorizing $839 billion in military spending—$37 billion more than was requested by the administration.
While some question rising military expenditures, others argue that spending needs to be much higher. In May, Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.) pointed out that there was a mismatch between the requested defense budget and the real-world situation.
Speaking at a talk sponsored by the Hudson Institute, Rogers pointed out that the proposed 2023 budget only offers 1 percent of real growth after inflation. A realistic budget needs to include at least 5 percent over real inflation, he argued.
“That’s the thing that we have to keep reminding them, stop trying to make the threats fit the budget number that the president gave you,” Rogers said. “You worry about the threats and tell us how much it’s going to cost and let us worry about it.”