Politics

Top Senate Armed Services Republican pushes massive hike in defense spending

Sen. Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, is pushing an aggressive plan to build up the Pentagon budget, a blueprint he says is the “generational investment” needed to keep pace with worldwide threats.

As part of the sprawling plan unveiled Wednesday, the Mississippi Republican is proposing a $55 billion increase in defense spending above what President Joe Biden has requested, an amount that blows past caps on the Pentagon budget set last year under a bipartisan debt deal. Wicker aims to grow U.S. defense spending to a 5 percent share of GDP.

Wicker argues that world events, namely increasing cooperation between China and Russia, justify more money to make more missiles and air defenses, accelerate shipbuilding to grow the Navy fleet, and expand the Air Force’s aircraft inventory.

“We do not need to spend this much indefinitely — but we do need a short-term generational investment to help us prevent another world war,” Wicker argued in a New York Times op-ed outlining his plan.

“Regaining American strength will be expensive. But fighting a war — and worse, losing one — is far more costly,” he wrote. “We need to begin a national conversation today on how we achieve a peaceful, prosperous and American-led 21st century. The first step is a generational investment in the U.S. military.”

Wicker is expected to offer some form of his proposal as an amendment to the panel’s annual defense policy bill next month.

Uphill fight: The plan faces long odds. Some defense hawks are already backing the idea of exceeding budget caps, and it could pose a dilemma for some vulnerable Democrats. But any plans to bust the caps will have to navigate Democrats’ demands that any increase get a non-defense match.

The increase also busts spending caps in the debt deal. House Republicans stuck to an $895 billion defense limit in their version of the National Defense Authorization Act.

NDAA nexus: The proposal is emerging two weeks before Senate Armed Services kicks off closed-door debate on its version of the NDAA. Wicker has said he plans to propose a significant increase to the bill’s topline during the committee deliberations.

Shipbuilding: Wicker, whose state is home to Ingalls Shipbuilding’s production of amphibious warships and destroyers for the Navy, is also pressing to pour more money into shipyards to quickly build toward a 355-plus ship fleet.

His framework urged the Navy to lock in a multi-year deal to purchase several amphibious ships. And it recommends creating a large-scale industrial base program for warships. The plan also proposes boosting submarine shipyards to build three attack subs per year. And it calls for speeding up purchases of unmanned surface and undersea vessels.

Missiles: Wicker’s plan would also eliminate purchases of munitions that are below maximum manufacturing rates unless those programs are above total requirements levels. It also recommends alternative production lines to increase munition inventories in the short term.

Indo-Pacific: The proposal includes a fund to modernize Indo-Pacific Command’s command-and-control and make it easier to work with allies and partners. It also recommends “surging support for Taiwan and the Philippines — and accelerating their military modernization and buying then asymmetrical weapons.

It would also push for new nuclear-sharing agreements in the Indo-Pacific and bring U.S. tactical nuclear weapons back to the Korean Peninsula.

Aircraft: Wicker raises alarms about the Air Force inventory of aircraft, recommending buying at least 340 more planes over five years and blocking the service’s plan to scrap F-22 and F-15E fighters.

Sen. Roger Wicker, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, is pushing an aggressive plan to build up the Pentagon budget, a blueprint he says is the “generational investment” needed to keep pace with worldwide threats.
As part of the sprawling plan unveiled Wednesday, the Mississippi Republican is proposing a $55 billion increase in defense spending above what President Joe Biden has requested, an amount that blows past caps on the Pentagon budget set last year under a bipartisan debt deal. Wicker aims to grow U.S. defense spending to a 5 percent share of GDP.
Wicker argues that world events, namely increasing cooperation between China and Russia, justify more money to make more missiles and air defenses, accelerate shipbuilding to grow the Navy fleet, and expand the Air Force’s aircraft inventory.
“We do not need to spend this much indefinitely — but we do need a short-term generational investment to help us prevent another world war,” Wicker argued in a New York Times op-ed outlining his plan.
“Regaining American strength will be expensive. But fighting a war — and worse, losing one — is far more costly,” he wrote. “We need to begin a national conversation today on how we achieve a peaceful, prosperous and American-led 21st century. The first step is a generational investment in the U.S. military.”
Wicker is expected to offer some form of his proposal as an amendment to the panel’s annual defense policy bill next month.
Uphill fight: The plan faces long odds. Some defense hawks are already backing the idea of exceeding budget caps, and it could pose a dilemma for some vulnerable Democrats. But any plans to bust the caps will have to navigate Democrats’ demands that any increase get a non-defense match.
The increase also busts spending caps in the debt deal. House Republicans stuck to an $895 billion defense limit in their version of the National Defense Authorization Act.
NDAA nexus: The proposal is emerging two weeks before Senate Armed Services kicks off closed-door debate on its version of the NDAA. Wicker has said he plans to propose a significant increase to the bill’s topline during the committee deliberations.
Shipbuilding: Wicker, whose state is home to Ingalls Shipbuilding’s production of amphibious warships and destroyers for the Navy, is also pressing to pour more money into shipyards to quickly build toward a 355-plus ship fleet.
His framework urged the Navy to lock in a multi-year deal to purchase several amphibious ships. And it recommends creating a large-scale industrial base program for warships. The plan also proposes boosting submarine shipyards to build three attack subs per year. And it calls for speeding up purchases of unmanned surface and undersea vessels.
Missiles: Wicker’s plan would also eliminate purchases of munitions that are below maximum manufacturing rates unless those programs are above total requirements levels. It also recommends alternative production lines to increase munition inventories in the short term.
Indo-Pacific: The proposal includes a fund to modernize Indo-Pacific Command’s command-and-control and make it easier to work with allies and partners. It also recommends “surging support for Taiwan and the Philippines — and accelerating their military modernization and buying then asymmetrical weapons.
It would also push for new nuclear-sharing agreements in the Indo-Pacific and bring U.S. tactical nuclear weapons back to the Korean Peninsula.
Aircraft: Wicker raises alarms about the Air Force inventory of aircraft, recommending buying at least 340 more planes over five years and blocking the service’s plan to scrap F-22 and F-15E fighters.  

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