Blue Dogs Call for Increased Defense Funding, Prioritizing of National Defense
WASHINGTON – The Blue Dog Coalition of House Democrats is calling on its congressional colleagues to approve the Biden administration’s $753 billion defense spending request for Fiscal Year 2022, saying the proposed $12.3 billion increase over last year will better enable the U.S. to counter the threat posed by China and to boost the nation’s cybersecurity.
The coalition addressed a letter to House Armed Services Committee Chairman Adam Smith, House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Mike Rogers, House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Chairwoman Betty McCollum, and House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee Ranking Member Ken Calvert. In the letter, the coalition’s leadership acknowledges that the president’s funding request is “strong and sensible.”
The Blue Dogs also said they would “oppose calls to authorize or appropriate funding below this level” since the United States “faces a formidable array of challenges” from non-state and state actors, including from Russia, China, Iran, North Korea, the Islamic State, and al Qaeda.
They added, “We agree with Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin that ‘China is our pacing threat’ and that ‘our goal is to make sure that we have the capabilities and the operational plans and concepts to be able to offer credible deterrence to China or anybody else who would want to take on the U.S.’”
The Fiscal Year 2021 NDAA established the China-focused Pacific Deterrence Initiative and authorized $2.23 billion to fund its various components. The Blue Dogs would like to see at least $4.68 billion allocated to the program this year, as outlined in a recent report by Admiral Philip S. Davidson, the former commander of United States Indo-Pacific Command.
The Blue Dogs are calling on Congress to provide “robust funding” to the newly established Office of the National Cyber Director, an office created to advise the president on cybersecurity, coordinate cyber policy across agencies and oversee the implementation of the National Cyber Strategy.
Finally, the Blue Dogs are calling on Congress to let watchdogs be watchdogs, and are requesting at least level funding for both the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General and internal Department of Defense auditors, namely the Naval Audit Service, the Air Force Audit Agency, and the Army Audit Agency. They oppose the proposed cut to the Naval Audit Service.
The letter was signed by Blue Dog members, Reps. Tom O’Halleran of Arizona, Ed Case of Hawaii, Stephanie Murphy of Florida, Abigail Spanberger of Virginia, and Kurt Schrader of Oregon.
Also signing the letter was Rep. Mikie Sherrill of New Jersey, chair of the Blue Dog Task Force on National Security.