House Armed Services chair says he opposed raising defense budget $25B beyond Biden request

"I certainly think we can do more with the money we have," said House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.).

House Armed Services Chairman Adam Smith (D-Wash.) said he rejected calls from progressives to cut the Pentagon's budget by 10% and wanted to see the National Defense Authorization Act mirror President Biden's budget request but it was ultimately raised about $25 billion higher to $740 billion.

According to the Defense Department, the FY2022 budget request of $715 billion reflected a 1.6% increase from $703.7 billion in FY2021.

Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) and Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) offered an amendment to reduce the defense budget by 10%, but it failed. Pocan voted against the final NDAA that raised defense spending. The lawmakers, along with Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), also produced an amendment to reduce the NDAA to match Biden's budget but it failed as well.

"This is proof that the military-industrial complex is alive and well," Pocan said in a statement. "We have serious threats facing our nation, like COVID-19 and climate change. Even just a small cut to the Pentagon's bloated budget could help fight these very serious threats. The fact that the Pentagon budget continues to grow year after year is an embarrassment. In fact, we spend more on our defense budget than the next 11-highest spending countries combined. I won't stop fighting to limit the Pentagon spending that's being used to fund the slush funds of defense contractors." 

Despite the Biden administration's decision to withdraw troops from Afghanistan and end U.S. military operations there, the House ultimately passed a roughly $25 billion increase over Biden's FY2022 defense budget in a bipartisan 316-113 vote. The Senate has not passed its version of the NDAA yet.

Smith was asked if he agreed with the effort from progressives to cut the defense budget. 

"I supported President Biden's budget," he told Just the News on Friday. "I voted for the amendment that cut it back to President Biden's budget. It failed. I did not support the $75 billion cut, but I certainly think we can do more with the money we have."

Smith ultimately voted in favor of the final bill, despite his opposition to raising the Pentagon budget beyond Biden's budget request.