National security hawks warn Congress throwing Pentagon 'under the bus' with 'inadequate' spending bump

National security hawks are raising alarms that Congress’ defense spending plan could hamper U.S. military advancement and leave the country more vulnerable against adversaries like China.

The defense appropriations bill was unveiled as part of a larger $1.2 trillion spending package aimed at funding roughly 70% of the federal government. Defense spending accounts for $886 billion, about a 3% increase from fiscal year 2023.

Lawmakers in both the House and Senate argued that the modest hike amounted to a spending cut when taking annual inflation into account and shared concerns that not enough is being allocated to military technology advancements.

Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., told Fox News Digital, “I thought the budget deal threw the Defense Department under the bus.”


Republican defense hawks like Sen. Marco Rubio, Rep. Mike Gallagher and Rep. Mike Garcia are sounding the alarm about the defense spending allocations in the bipartisan government funding deal. (Getty Images)

“We’ve been clawing and scratching to get a little higher number… China’s up 7% year-over-year,” Rep. Mike Garcia, R-Calif., a retired Navy pilot, told Fox News Digital. “We’re not doing what we need to do in terms of investment in our military. It begins with our troops, but it’s also things like hypersonic space programs.”

He also bashed the White House for calling for just a 1% increase in President Biden’s annual budget proposal earlier this month, adding, “It feels like every other federal agency… keeps getting these higher numbers out of the White House in those requests, and [defense] is just getting neglected.”

Sen. Marco Rubio, R-Fla., the top Republican on the Senate Intelligence Committee, similarly argued, “It’s not just the level of spending, but where it’s being allocated.”

“These appropriations bills are ultimately a process of negotiation. And when the people in the majority here prioritize other things over the defense of our country and spending on it, you’re going to wind up with products such as this,” Rubio said.

Another Navy veteran in Congress, Rep. Jen Kiggans, R-Va., said, “The defense budget is always inadequate. I say that every day of the week, so I wish it was more.”


Rep. Jen Kiggans, a veteran herself, said the military has long been underfunded. (Getty Images)

“We are always a day late and a dollar short already. We don’t have the time. The time was yesterday to invest in our military. It’s something that was neglected for a while,” Kiggans said.

She also directed criticism at Biden for his proposed 1% increase for the next year, telling Fox News Digital, “We’ve got to put our money where our mouth is. Again, it gets very frustrating to me – that top line number from the Biden administration.”

According to a House Appropriations Committee summary of the bill text, the defense appropriations bill “doubles security cooperation funding for Taiwan” and includes a 5.2% increase in basic military pay. It provides a $27 billion increase over the previous fiscal year’s enacted level.

The bill also includes nearly $4 billion for Israel and $300 million for Ukraine.


Speaker Mike Johnson and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer unveiled the legislation overnight Thursday. (Tom Williams/CQ-Roll Call, Inc via Getty Images | Samuel Corum/Getty Images)

House China committee Chair Mike Gallagher, R-Wis., however, was concerned there would not be enough resources to counter Beijing’s aggression – particularly toward Taiwan.

“We’re dealing with a bow wave of deferred modernization. We’re still living off the Reagan buildup right now. I mean, we just haven’t invested the requisite money and allocated resources accordingly, sufficient to deny a Chinese invasion of Taiwan, which remains the most pressing national security challenge we need to be thinking through,” Gallagher told Fox News Digital.

A spokesperson for Speaker Mike Johnson, R-La., told Fox News Digital, “By rejecting misguided priorities and refocusing Pentagon spending toward its core mission, this legislation increases funding to strengthen our national security and invest in our military readiness, technology, and modernization.”

The office of Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., declined to comment.

Elizabeth Elkind is a politics reporter for Fox News Digital leading coverage of the House of Representatives. Previous digital bylines seen at Daily Mail and CBS News.

Follow on Twitter at @liz_elkind and send tips to [email protected]

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