Shelby on FY23 Department of Defense Budget Request

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Richard Shelby (R-Ala.), vice chairman of the Senate Committee on Appropriations and its subcommittee on defense, submitted for the record the following prepared remarks for the defense appropriations subcommittee hearing on the fiscal year 2023 (FY23) funding request for the Department of Defense.  Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, testified today during the hearing.


The Vice Chairman’s prepared remarks are as follows:


“Thank you Mr. Chairman.  Secretary Austin and General Milley, welcome back to the Subcommittee.


“The Department’s request seeks $761 billion, a 4.6 percent increase over fiscal year 2022 appropriations.


“In most years, that sort of increase would be within a range sufficient to maintain readiness and modernize the force.

“Regrettably, we are also experiencing the highest level of inflation in this country in 40 years. 


“In a fiscal environment with 8.5 percent inflation, the Department’s budget request equates to a cut to our national defense at a time of unprecedented security risks.


“I have to say that I am a bit confused and more than concerned by this somewhat anemic request.

“Ukraine is entering its third month of repelling the Russian invasion.  Putin’s actions have created the largest humanitarian crisis in modern Europe while his forces attempt to consolidate their territorial gains in eastern Ukraine. 


“At the same time, North Korea is testing missiles reportedly capable of carrying nuclear warheads. 


“Iran continues its own pursuit of a nuclear weapon, while also arming radical militia groups across the Middle East.


“And let’s not forget China as it continues to build military capability and capacity at an unprecedented pace.  Chinese defense spending rose 7.1 percent in 2022.  Their defense budgets have seen as high as 12 percent annual growth at points over the past decade.


“Meanwhile, the Department’s budget request seeks to execute a ‘divest to invest’ strategy which potentially could shrink our combat-credible forces by 24 ships and 150 aircraft.

“While I appreciate the need to retire certain platforms and modernize our forces for the 2030 fight, we still have a majority of this decade immediately before us, and I am deeply concerned that we are short-changing near-term readiness for future modernization. 


“Given today’s increasingly complex security environment, we should not and cannot sacrifice one for the other.


“I have said many times that the primary responsibility of our federal government is the defense of the nation.


“I am growing increasingly concerned that years and years of misplaced spending priorities may leave us incapable of meeting both current and future threats.


“Personally, I hope we can pick up in fiscal year 2023 where we left off in 2022, with an increase - above the President’s request - to assure the adequate defense of our nation.


“That will require proper levels of investment to assure our superiority for generations to come.


“I look forward to better understanding how this year’s defense budget sets us on a path to that goal.  Thank you, Mr. Chairman.”