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Ten Defense Budget Questions Biden Must Answer

Lawrence J. Korb discusses the 10 major questions that President Joe Biden should address in the fiscal year 2024 defense budget.

As President Joe Biden finalizes his defense budget for FY2024 and his defense program for FY2024–2028, he needs to address at least the following ten major. How he handles these issues will significantly impact U.S. national security, the federal budget deficit, and his legacy. Moreover, given the political realities of the upcoming 2024 election, the FY2024 budget, which goes into effect on October 1 and lasts until October 2024, and Biden’s FY2024–2028 defense program may be his last, best chance to significantly reshape U.S. national security policy.

First, in deciding on the top line, or the size of the FY2024 defense budget, will Biden use the $813 billion he proposed for FY2023 as a base? The $813 billion represented an increase of $73 billion, or 10 percent, over the FY2021 budget, the last complete budget of the Trump administration, and $60 billion, or 8 percent, above what he proposed for FY2022. Or, will Biden use the $860 billion approved by Congress in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY2023? This congressionally approved budget was $110 billion, or about 15 percent, above the Trump administration’s FY2021 budget level, and $82 billion, or 11 percent, over the enacted FY2022 level. In real terms, Biden’s initial proposal for FY2023 essentially represented a 4 percent increase, while the NDAA proposal had a real increase of about 9 percent. This total does not include military assistance to Ukraine but does include $2 billion for Taiwan.

The above excerpt was originally published in The National Interest. Click here to view the full article.

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Lawrence J. Korb

Senior Fellow

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