U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement on President Biden’s fiscal year 2023 budget request for national defense:
“‘To be prepared for war is the most effectual means of preserving the peace.’ It was true in 1790 when President Washington said it, it was true in 1983 when President Reagan repeated it, and it remains true today. Preserving the peace requires serious investment — and the President’s defense budget falls short.
“While Secretary Austin and Deputy Secretary Hicks fought to increase this year’s defense budget, I hope they agree with me that our military needs more resources in this increasingly dangerous world than this budget provides.
“President Biden’s defense budget reflects the world he wishes for — but not the world as it is. You simply can’t look at the world around us now and think this budget is adequate to confront all the threats we face, let alone to accelerate our attempts to maintain or restore deterrence and secure U.S. interests for our children and grandchildren.
“Most problematic is that this budget neglects to sufficiently account for historic inflation. The Pentagon’s inflation assumptions for 2023 are almost certainly low, nor does the budget make up for current record inflation rates. I am particularly concerned about service members losing buying power, just like all American families.
“Real growth — 5 percent above inflation — is what we need if we are to meet this moment. The Chinese Communist Party understands hard power — that’s why they announced a 7.1 percent defense budget increase this year, continuing their unprecedented military modernization and increasingly aggressive behavior. The outlook for our other national security threats is no better. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended European security, North Korea continues to develop more capable intercontinental ballistic missiles, Iran has accelerated its aggression against the U.S. and our partners, and terrorist groups continue to reconstitute in Africa and Afghanistan.
“We must do more to change the military balance of power in the next five years. Our naval fleet will still shrink in this request. Air Force aircraft procurement remains anemic. While core nuclear modernization efforts remain on track, cuts to key capabilities like the sea-launched cruise missile mean we will lose ground against China’s and Russia’s rapidly expanding arsenals.
“There are some encouraging signs in this budget. The Department of Defense has finally made progress in aligning its Pacific Deterrence Initiative request with congressional intent — those are high-priority posture investments. Increases in research and development are positive, but will take years to manifest. The Rapid Defense Experimentation Reserve initiative gives much-needed attention to joint experimentation, and I’ll work to ensure it’s focused on meeting operational challenges that move the needle in the near term.
“We still have to wait a few more weeks for the full details of this proposal, unfortunately. Next, Congress will do our part to make this budget reflect the real world. Last year, with a Democrat House, Senate and White House, many thought a defense budget increase was impossible. But my amendment to last year’s defense authorization bill showed there is broad bipartisan appetite for a higher defense budget, and ultimately, the full Congress endorsed a significant increase.
“The world has only gotten less safe since then. Inflation has only grown. In my final year in Congress, I’ll work with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to provide our military with the real growth we need.”