NEW DETAILS: Biden releases $842B defense spending blueprint

Blueprint calls for largest military and civilian DOD pay boost in two decades

Credit: Bill Clark

Credit: Bill Clark

President Biden is calling for $842 billion in Department of Defense spending fiscal year 2024, with a 3.2% or $26 billion increase over current military spending levels, according to initial White House spending proposals released Thursday.

Perhaps most significantly, the plan calls for the largest military pay raise in over 20 years, and the largest civilian pay raise in over 40 years, both set at 5.2%.

The blueprint also calls $121 billion in discretionary medical care funding for veterans in 2024, $2.3 billion above fiscal 2023′s enacted level, with $17.1 billion in the VA’s Toxic Exposures Fund.

Federal law requires presidents to give Congress an annual budget proposal by the first Monday in February. Presidents of both parties are typically late in doing that.

Further defense spending details are expected Monday and in the days ahead, shining a light on Air Force acquisition and research priorities.

Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, with some 35,000 military and civilian employees, is home to Air Force Materiel Command and the Air Force Research Laboratory, crucial missions that determine how the future Air Force will be equipped.

“Today, I am proud to join President Biden in submitting the fiscal year 2024 Budget,” Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said in a statement Thursday. “The fiscal year 2024 president’s budget request, totaling $842 billion, is $26 billion more than the current FY 2023 enacted level and nearly $100 billion higher than FY 2022.

“This is a strategy-informed budget, based on priorities outlined in the 2022 National Defense Strategy,” Austin added. “The budget prioritizes resources for critical investments enabling the department to continue implementation of the National Defense Strategy, including building the right mix of capabilities to defending against current and future threats.”

The initial blueprint also proposes $20 million through the Department of Education to ensure military-connected children with disabilities and other children with disabilities are able to maintain services, when they move to new school districts.

The budget proposal from the president is only the first step in the lengthy federal budget process and is not binding on Congress.

With Republicans holding the majority in the House of Representatives this year, the fiscal 2024 budget-shaping process will probably be more contentious. Congress typically shapes defense spending to its own liking, no matter which party controls the House.

In March 2022, Biden proposed $813.3 billion for fiscal 2023 national security spending, an increase of $31 billion or 4% from fiscal 2022.

In December 2022, Biden signed the Fiscal 2023 National Defense Authorization Act into law, setting aside $816.7 billion for defense.

That budget featured a 4.6% pay raise for military and civilian members of the Department of Defense and included $45 billion more than Biden originally requested last year.

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