Prominent Dem Sees 'Big Fight Coming' Over Dems' Attempt to Slash Defense Budget

The House Armed Services Committee / Getty Images
October 22, 2020

A prominent Democratic congressman said he sees a "big fight coming" over Democrats' attempts to slash the defense budget, American Military News reported Thursday.

Rep. Adam Smith (D., Wash.), who chairs the powerful House Armed Services Committee, made the prediction Wednesday in a call with reporters. He said that many of his fellow Democrats have made "an aggressive push" to cut military spending by as much as 20 percent, while many Republicans just want to "spend more money."

The armed services committee first marks up and drafts the National Defense Authorization Act, which sets forth the annual military budget. While Democrats already control the committee, they have been divided on military spending.

Left-wing Democrats have proposed shrinking the defense budget in an attempt to "defund the Pentagon" and redirecting the money toward social services.

In the call, Smith distanced himself from more radical members of his party. "There has to be national security policy behind the cuts," he said. "It can't just be 'I want to spend money elsewhere because I don't like the Defense Department.'"

Smith has proposed a cut amounting to $10 to $20 billion annually.

Experts warn that a smaller defense budget may be detrimental to national security.

Congressional Democrats caused last year's NDAA to authorize funding $12 million short of the White House's stated goal—a likely reason for former acting Navy Secretary Tom Modley's statement that his branch lacked funds.

Rep. Smith's comments come as the Pentagon is planning on increased competition with China and Russia, especially in such flashpoint areas as the South China Sea and outer space.

In an interview with the Washington Free Beacon, Heritage Foundation foreign policy expert Dean Cheng expressed concern that nascent and innovative military programs could be on the chopping block under a Biden administration.

"The Biden folks seem to say that they will probably limit defense spending," Cheng said. "You could rescind the Space Force if you control both houses [of Congress]."