House Speaker Kevin McCarthy Rejects Supplemental Defense Spending Bill
“Why do you move to a supplemental when we just passed [the debt ceiling bill]? The idea of a supplemental is to go around the agreement we just came through,” said McCarthy. “I think we’ve got to walk through appropriations. I mean, I don’t understand what the process is.
“Now is the time to work on appropriations,” he added.
House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) has dismissed the idea of a supplemental defense spending bill, citing the bipartisan debt ceiling bill that was recently signed into law by President Joe Biden. McCarthy believes that the debt ceiling bill addressed defense spending and that the appropriations process should be followed instead of a supplemental bill.
Defense Spending Caps
The debt ceiling law includes a commitment to spend almost $886.35 billion on defense in fiscal year 2024 and just over $895.21 billion the following fiscal year. When asked whether the top-line defense spending caps will be sufficient to counter America’s adversaries, McCarthy said “yes.”
Reforming the Defense Department
McCarthy believes that the Defense Department needs reform, citing issues such as permitting, the ability to move weapons faster, and the ability to rebuild the manufacturing base by building weapons, especially for selling to allies and others. He also noted that the past five Defense Department audits turned out negatively, expressing concern over the department’s waste, fraud, and abuse.
Opposition to Supplemental Defense Spending Bill
Some Republican and Democrat senators have called for a supplemental defense spending bill. However, McCarthy believes that the top lines are “the most money we’ve ever spent on defense” and that a supplemental bill is unnecessary. Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) warned that the debt ceiling bill “poses a mortal risk to our national security by cutting our defense budget,” while Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) remarked that the legislation would make America ill-prepared to deal with threats from abroad.
Despite opposition, McCarthy believes that there is a lot of room for reform in the Defense Department, which could lead to significant savings. He also believes that the top lines are sufficient to counter America’s adversaries and that appropriations should be the focus now.
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