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Shelby: Defense budget “a cut…at a time of unprecedented security risks”

A continued review of the budget will resume on May 10.

The Pentagon

U.S. Senator Richard Shelby, R-Alabama, said that the current funding request from the Department of Defense, though increased, equates to “a cut to our national defense at a time of unprecedented security risks” in a statement after the defense appropriations subcommittee’s review on the budget request Tuesday.

According to U.S. Sen. Jon Tester, D-Montana, Shelby was ill Tuesday morning and thus unable to attend the meeting in person. However, his office issued a statement on the budget request after the session had concluded.

The Department of Defense is required to submit an annual request for funds to congress, with this most recent request seeking $761 billion for defense spending for the fiscal year 2023–a 4.6 percent increase from the previous fiscal year’s appropriations.

Shelby, vice-chairmen of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and the subcommittee on defense, explained in his statement Tuesday that the otherwise standard request was “somewhat anemic” when heightened inflation rates are taken into account and voiced his concern over a potential reduction in Defense spending while war rages in Ukraine and threats remain in North Korea and Iran.

“Ukraine is entering its third month of repelling the Russian invasion,” Shelby said at the subcommittee meeting Tuesday. “Putin’s actions have created the largest humanitarian crisis in modern Europe while his forces attempt to consolidate their territorial gains in eastern Ukraine. At the same time, North Korea is testing missiles reportedly capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Iran continues its own pursuit of a nuclear weapon, while also arming radical militia groups across the Middle East.”

The senator mentioned China’s heightened defense spending, which increased 7.1 percent in 2022, aligning with the country’s escalated growth in military funding.

“Let’s not forget China as it continues to build military capability and capacity at an unprecedented pace,” Shelby said. “Chinese defense spending rose 7.1 percent in 2022. Their defense budgets have seen as high as 12 percent annual growth at points over the past decade.”

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In their 2023 request, the DOD seeks to execute a ‘divest to invest’ strategy, according to Shelby, that would reduce U.S. naval forces by 24 ships and air units by 150 aircraft, an approach that Shelby said concerned him.

“While I appreciate the need to retire certain platforms and modernize our forces for the 2030 fight, we still have a majority of this decade immediately before us, and I am deeply concerned that we are short-changing near-term readiness for future modernization,” Shelby said. “Given today’s increasingly complex security environment, we should not and cannot sacrifice one for the other.”

A continued review of the budget will resume on May 10.

Written By

John is a reporter at the Alabama Political Reporter. You can contact him at [email protected] or via Twitter.

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