President Joe Biden has been hit with criticisms from all sides following the presentation of his government’s first budget wishlist on Friday, asking Congress to sharply hike spending on climate change, cancer and underperforming schools.
The $1.5 trillion budget, reflecting an 8% increase in base funding from this year, marks a sharp contrast with the goals of Biden’s predecessor, Donald Trump.
The budget is expected to spread billions of dollars more across areas ranging from public transit, poor schools, toxic site clean-ups, foreign aid and background checks on gun sales, but spend nothing on border walls.
Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen said, “makes things fairer.”
But rather than seeing the budget as making things fairer,” many have raised concerns about military spending particularly at a time the congress is looking to increase military spending to deal with threats from China, Russia, Iran and North Korea.
The proposal was immediately greeted with scorn for placing an inflation-adjusted basis of $715 billion funding for the Department of Defense.
The administration also cut an “Overseas Contingency Operations” account that even government bureaucrats said had come to serve as a slush fund for extra military spending.
Five top Senate Republicans including Minority Leader Mitch McConnell jointly warned that the Biden plan sends “a terrible message” to U.S. allies and adversaries.
They also said the proposal calls into question the readiness of Biden’s administration to confront China.
“We can’t afford to fail in our constitutional responsibility to provide for the common defense,” wrote lawmakers including top Republicans on critical Senate committees involved in the budget-making process.
U.S. Representative Ro Khanna of California, a top liberal Democratic voice on security matters, said the military spending request was “disappointing” and left open the possibility of “wasteful spending” on missiles.
Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, the chairman of the Budget Committee and a top liberal who frequently collaborates with Biden, said he was broadly supportive of the budget but said it was “time for us to take a serious look” at the Pentagon’s “waste and fraud.”