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Pentagon budget 2024: Congress backs 3.3% defence increase

The US Capitol building in Washington, DC. (Getty Images)

The US Congress has approved a budget outline that will provide USD886 billion for defence in fiscal year (FY) 2024, which is the same as President Joe Biden's request and up USD28 billion or 3.3% from the FY 2023 enacted level.

The Senate endorsed the plan on 1 June, a day after the House of Representatives did the same. Biden signed the measure into law on 3 June.

The defence funding, along with cuts in non-defence spending, is included in the Fiscal Responsibility Act of 2023, which also raises the US government's debt ceiling to avert an imminent default on its financial obligations. Under the legislation, which the Democratic president negotiated with Republican House Speaker Kevin McCarthy, defence funding will rise 1% to USD895 billion in FY 2025.

To turn the FY 2024 budget figures into reality, Congress must write and pass its FY 2024 appropriations bills in the coming months. “We have a starting point, but there are many details to work out, and we are less than four months from the start of the next fiscal year,” David Broome, executive vice-president for government relations at the Professional Services Council (PSC), said in a 5 June statement.

Critics of the Biden-McCarthy deal said the FY 2024 defence funding increase is less than the inflation rate and is insufficient to counter threats from China and elsewhere. “This budget is a win for China,” Republican Senator Lindsey Graham said in a 1 June speech on the Senate floor. It “locks in a smaller US Navy at a time the Chinese navy is growing dramatically”.

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