President Joe Biden kept an effective lid on US military spending in his first budget draft Friday, proposing to spend $715 billion, a marginal hike after sharp increases under predecessor Donald Trump.
For fiscal 2022, which starts October 1 this year, Biden asked Congress to allot a total of $753 billion for defense and national security.
Of that $715 billion would go to the Pentagon, up from $704 billion budgeted for the current year but a slight fall when measured in real terms after inflation.
Biden’s budget supports expansion of the US Navy’s fleet, amid concerns of it being outpaced by rival China, which the Defense Department considers its primary challenge.
Biden is also proposing to modernize the country’s nuclear weaponry and strengthen the delivery systems -- bombers, submarines and missiles.
Nearly $107 billion will go to weapons- and defense-related research and development, the highest level ever, with a growing focus on hypersonic missiles, artificial intelligence, microelectronics and autonomous vehicles.
But it also places an emphasis on military operations that acknowledge and address climate change.
“It is vital to national security that US military installations, and the mission critical capabilities these installations support, are resilient to climate-induced extreme weather,” the White House said in its spending proposal.
In addition, the US armed forces will get a modest pay increase under Biden’s proposal.
The budget “continues to improve military readiness and invest in the modernization of a more lethal force,” the Pentagon said in a statement.
Trump sharply pushed up the Pentagon budget beginning in fiscal 2018 after years of tight controls due to the lengthy recovery from the 2008 financial crisis.
The initial budget proposal is mostly a wish list and the administration will have to hash out details with Congress beginning around mid-year, in a process that can increase or reduce the final budget.