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Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) called for an increase in defense spending to prepare for threats posed by Russia and China.
On Tuesday (February 28), McConnell asserted that he doesn’t believe the Pentagon’s budget should be frozen or that it should be slowed to a rate lower than inflation as part of House Republicans’ suggestions for the deficit reduction package.
McConnell, who attended the Munich Security Conference, added that the past defense budget hadn’t anticipated the high cost of supplying weapons to Ukraine amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict, noting that the calculations on the national security spending were changing.
The Senate Republican Leader shared that he “absolutely” agrees with defense hawk Senator Tom Cotton’s (R-Ark) assertion that Congress shouldn’t cut defense spending and, instead, that there should be “substantial defense increases.”
McConnell’s comments come as House Republicans intend to hold up increasing the debt limit unless deep cuts are made.
McConnell added that the defense budget should “reflect the nature of the threat,” noting that it wasn’t only Russia but “the ongoing challenge of meeting China in the future.”
The Senate Republican Leader complimented lawmakers’ decision last year “did a good job” of “plussing up defense” in the $1.7 trillion omnibus spending package.
McConnell added that lawmakers should continue to “plus up” the defense budget, explaining there were “problems” providing the weapons and ammunition needed to supply Ukraine.
McConnell suggested it wasn’t only the U.S. that should increase their defense spending but that “all of the NATO countries need to ramp up their emphasis on defense.”