Republicans in the House are divided over a deal Rep. Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) made with conservative GOP members to secure enough votes to win the speakership that could potentially bring this year’s military budget down by about $75 billion, although the chances of the cut making it through Congress are unlikely.
One of the concessions McCarthy made was to hold a vote on capping government spending at fiscal 2022 levels, which would bring the military budget down to $782 billion, significantly lower than the $857 billion approved for 2023.
It wasn’t clear if military spending would be included in the potential budget cut, but Rep. Jim Jordan (R-OH) appeared to confirm that it would be. “We got a $32 trillion debt. Everything has to be on the table,” Jordan said when asked about military spending on “Fox News Sunday.”
Other Republicans denied that military spending would be on the chopping block, including Rep. Chip Roy (R-Texas), who was involved in cutting a deal with McCarthy. “[D]uring negotiations, cuts to defense were NEVER DISCUSSED,” Roy’s office wrote on Twitter, according to POLITICO. “In fact, there was broad agreement spending cuts should focus on NON-DEFENSE discretionary spending.”
Rep. Nancy Mace (R-SC) criticized the deal McCarthy made with conservatives and said she doesn’t “want to see defense cuts.”
Realistically, a vote to bring military spending back down to 2022 levels has very little chance of passing through the House and Senate. Enough House Republicans would be opposed to the idea, as well as the majority of Democrats, although some progressives favor slashing the military budget.
Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) said the prospect of cutting the Pentagon budget was “pretty exciting,” and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) also expressed support for the idea. “I think it is absurd we are going to have almost a trillion dollar defense budget … And if they’re going to look at that and make certain cuts, then let’s have that conversation,” Khanna said.