House Speaker Kevin McCarthy derided the idea that Congress adopt a brisk hike in defense spending, urging that lawmakers first look for ways to cut waste, The Hill reported.
The California Republican's pushback comes as some within his party have suggested that the 3% defense spending bump in the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023 is too small, necessitating a supplemental bill.
"The last five audits the Department of Defense has failed. So, there's a lot of place for reform. We can have a lot of savings," McCarthy said Monday, insisting that the House go through the appropriations process.
"This is the most money we've ever spent on defense — this is the most money anyone in the world has ever spent on defense," he continued. "So, I don't think the first answer is to do a supplemental."
The agreement between McCarthy and President Joe Biden signed over the weekend suspends the debt limit until Jan. 1, 2025, and caps non-defense discretionary spending for the next two calendar years.
In addition, all unused funds appropriated during the COVID-19 pandemic are rescinded, $1.4 billion in unobligated Internal Revenue Service funds are tabled, and $20 billion in IRS funding will be redirected for two years.
While the Pentagon initially appears unaffected by the cuts, its 3% raise is actually a cut when inflation is factored in. Officials have also sounded the alarm over new measures in the deal that could lead to future slashes.
"There's a lot of places you can find savings, and ... make our money go further, more efficiently and more effectively," McCarthy explained. "That's why I don't like the idea of someone just walking in and just saying, 'Oh, we need a supplemental.' No, we just plussed up the number for spending on defense."
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