The Senate’s beefed-up version of next fiscal year’s military spending plan, the last one that retiring Oklahoma Senator Jim Inhofe will put his mark on, easily advanced out of committee last week and now awaits action by the full Senate.
Named in Sen. Inhofe’s honor, the James M. Inhofe National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2023 would authorize $817 billion for the Department of Defense, roughly 10 percent more than the department received for the Fiscal Year 2022, not including supplemental funding for Ukraine. It’s almost six percent more than the $773 billion that President Biden requested in his budget.
“Today, the Senate Armed Services Committee was able to work in a bipartisan fashion to report the National Defense Authorization Act out of committee for another year—my last in the Senate,” Inhofe said last Thursday. “I have worked my entire congressional career to provide for our nation’s military and this year’s Senate defense bill reflects that. I am especially proud of what we secured for Oklahoma’s service members and their families.”
During hearings this spring in the House and Senate, Pentagon officials assured members that the President's military budget was sufficient.
"This is a significant budget," said Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin in response to a question from Oklahoma Representative Stephanie Bice (R-OK5), who sits on the House Armed Services Committee, "and it provides us the capability, the ability to go after the capabilities we need to support our war-fighting concepts and our strategy overall."
But Inhofe and other Republicans and Democrats disagree.
"It’s not enough," said Sen. Inhofe in an interview, "and right now we’re in one of the most threatened positions America has been in -- ever."
Sen. Inhofe points to conflicts around the globe, most notably Russia's invasion of Ukraine, that threaten to involve the United States or our allies. But he believes America's biggest worry right now is China, as it continues to expand and upgrade its military capabilities and, many experts believe, prepares to invade Taiwan.
The House Armed Services Committee is scheduled to mark up its version of the NDAA this Wednesday.