Senate committee dumps another $45 billion on top of Biden’s military budget request
Speaking Security Newsletter | Advisory Note for Activists and Candidates, n°160 | 22 June 2022
The Senate Armed Services Committee voted to add $45 billion on top of Biden’s proposed military budget for FY2023 during closed-door negotiations late last week. If congressional appropriators choose to provide the commensurate funding for the number authorized in the Senate committee’s bill, we’ll be looking at an $858 billion Pentagon budget next year.
Public opinion vs. elite consensus
Before they voted to advance the legislation out of committee, Senate Armed Services members considered 433 amendments to the bill, adopting 223. The amendment adding the extra $45 billion on top of Biden’s $813 billion request was one of them, approved in a 25-1 vote (Elizabeth Warren was the only committee member to vote against it).
This would not have been the outcome had Senate committee votes reflected public opinion. A recent survey conducted by Public Citizen/Data For Progress suggests the committee’s enthusiasm for the budget increase isn’t a sentiment shared by most Americans. Based on my interpretation of the polling data, an amendment increasing Pentagon spending to $858 billion should’ve only received between six and eight votes—not 25.
I’m not arguing that Armed Services Committee members should’ve reflexively cast their votes based on the survey results. After all, many publicly-held views are—to be blunt—moronic. Still, there remain the facts that these are elected representatives, and their votes weren’t representative of the electorate—not in the slightest. Do we have an explanation for this? Yes, several—one being that political contributions can incentivize ignoring constituent attitudes: