April 16, 2021 — In its first budget blueprint to Congress, the Biden administration suggested a level of $753 billion for the Pentagon, an increase from President Trump’s final enacted budget. Today, 36 national progressive grassroots, faith, social justice, immigration, peace, and climate groups released a statement in reaction.
As organizations that believe strongly in the need to invest in our communities, there are many parts of this budget request to celebrate. Unfortunately, an increased Pentagon budget is not one of them. After a surge of funding for the Pentagon over the last four years, it is important that Pentagon spending not increase in any way, and in fact it is vital that it be reduced.
It is crystal clear that the status quo is failing to keep our communities at home and abroad safe. We must change course and invest in the needs of people rather than the greed of the military-industrial complex. As we enter the second year of a crisis that has killed over 500,000 people in the United States and nearly three million people around the world, led to the highest national unemployment since the Great Depression, and ravaged the U.S. and global economy, we simply cannot justify pouring billions of dollars into weapons and wars that serve to maintain conflict and violence at home and abroad. The weapons industry’s wealth has only grown during the pandemic, while constituents in every district continue to struggle to meet their basic needs. Yet the Pentagon topline in this proposed budget request communicates a commitment to the status quo.
The previous administration, with congressional acquiescence, increased the Pentagon’s budget by $133 billion even as the Defense Department failed its first two audits, continued to produce faulty weapons systems and programs with cost overruns, accelerated a new global nuclear arms race, and remained one of the world’s largest polluters at a time when climate change presents an existential threat. That Trump-era surge capped nearly two decades of endless war with a price tag of more than $6 trillion that could have been invested in diplomacy, domestic infrastructure, green jobs, health care and more.
There are numerous proposals on how to rein in the gargantuan Pentagon budget while increasing national and global security, and we are eager to work with Congress and the Biden administration to support these or other long-overdue efforts to scale back Pentagon spending. The American people know that producing more weapons, greenlighting corporate contracts, and propping up endless war slush funds will not make us safer.
As such, we call on President Biden to significantly lower the Pentagon budget when he sends his detailed budget request to Congress, and on Congress, as the holder of the nation’s purse strings, to allocate less for the Pentagon in its Fiscal Year 2022 spending bills.
American Friends Service Committee
Beyond the Bomb
Brave New Films
Center for International Policy
Church of the Brethren, Office of Peacebuilding and Policy
Coalition on Human Needs
Columban Center for Advocacy and Outreach
Friends of the Earth
Friends Committee on National Legislation
Just Foreign Policy
Justice Is Global
National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies
NETWORK Lobby for Catholic Social Justice
Pax Christi USA
Physicians for Social Responsibility
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team
Social Security Works
The United Methodist Church – General Board of Church and Society
Union of Concerned Scientists
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United We Dream Network
Veterans For Peace
Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND)
Win Without War
Working Families Party
Read the full letter here