The National Defense Authorization Act sets spending for military pay and benefits, defense operations and national-security programs for each fiscal year.
On May 28, 2021, the Secretary of Defense issued a press release announcing the 2022 Defense budget. The Biden-Harris administration submitted that budget to Congress on the same day, requesting $752.9 billion dollars for national defense, with $715 billion of that amount set aside for the Department of Defense.
The budget is, according to DoD calculations, a $11.3 billion increase over the FY 2021 budget. enacted level. That’s 1.6 percent more than last year, but described by DoD sources as being “slightly less than the anticipated rate of inflation for FY 2022”.
The National Defense Authorization Act sets spending for military pay and benefits, defense operations and national-security programs for each fiscal year. The 2022 Defense Budget includes a set of priorities for upgrading and modernizing the U.S. military as well as provisions to end what the administration calls “forever wars”.
The overall federal budget consists of different types of spending–there are mandatory spending requirements and “discretionary” spending requirements. On the “mandatory” side there are federal programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid, unemployment programs, etc.
The “discretionary” spending side includes funding for federal departments including the DoD. Other departments include the Food & Drug Administration, and The Department of Homeland Security.
There are 12 total different areas and 12 separate funding proposals for discretionary spending; these are often combined into an omnibus bill that would include the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act.
Goals Of The 2022 Defense Budget
Each fiscal year’s defense budget is released with a set of goals. The FY 2022 budget includes the following:
- Defeat COVID-19
- Prioritize China as the Pacing Threat
- Address Advanced and Persistent Threats
- Innovate and Modernize
- Tackle the Climate Crisis
- Take Care of Our People
The budget also mentions specific “advanced and persistent threats from a variety of sources including violent extremist organizations, but also:
- North Korea
China may be named as the most significant threat, but the FY 2022 budget recognizes the above as additional areas of concern.
Basic Contents Of The FY 2022 Defense Budget
$715 billion overall is identified for the Department of Defense. Specific programs and initiatives include the following:
- $500 million for COVID-19 /pandemic readiness
- $5.1 billion for the Pacific Deterrence Initiative
- $617 million for climate change-related issues
- $27.7 billion for nuclear modernization
- $20.4 billion for “missile defeat” and defense
- $6.6 billion for “Long Range Fires”
- $52.4 billion for “Lethal Air Forces”
- $34.6 billion for “Combat Effective Naval Forces”
- $12.3 billion for “Combat Effective Ground Forces”
- $20.6 billion for Space and Space-Based Systems
- $10.4 billion for Cyberspace Activities
- $341 million for Defense Production Act partnerships with U.S. companies
- $9.1 million for “initial actions” to combat extremism and insider threats
- 2.7% pay increase
- 3.1% Basic Allowance for Housing increase
- 2.3% Basic Allowance for Subsistence increase
One important portion of the budget addresses contingency operations including the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. In April, 2021, the President announced a full withdrawal from Afghanistan with a deadline of September11, 2021. The 2022 defense budget includes a request for $42.1 billion to support the drawdown and “other contingency operations”.
Basic Needs Allowance for Low-Income Military Families
The House Armed Services Committee has also included the creation of a new basic needs allowance for low-income service members as part of their draft of the defense bill. This would create a monthly allowance for military families who have an income at or below 130 percent of the federal poverty rate. An E-3 with a spouse and two children and only that income for their household would qualify for the allowance. The allowance could equate to roughly $250 extra a month.
In the past, qualifying families have been eligible for food stamps or other state low-income assistance such as Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (SNAP) benefits. However, changes in recent years to the formulas have counted other military payouts such as Basic Allowance for Housing, or BAH.
Who Benefits From The 2022 Defense Budget?
Members of the U.S. military are authorized a 2.7% pay raise in FY 2022. That is growth of more than $5 billion over last year.
$8.6 billion is set aside for family support programs, professional development, and education for both those who serve and spouses as well as child care programs and DoD schools.
Part of the $8.6 billion is also intended to establish the Defense Center of Excellence For Sexual Assault Prevention, Response, Education And Training. DoD funds in 2020 are also being used to “identify and address extremism in the ranks”.
Some $10 billion is identified for military construction which includes family housing. The DoD press release indicates this is roughly 17% higher than last year. One item of priority? “Ensuring privatized and government housing is safe, high-quality, and well-maintained”.
The DoD says thanks to the new budget, current funding levels are over $50 million higher “than the amount requested only two years ago” according to the press release.
The Original Proposed 2022 Defense Budget
The information in this section was part of the President’s FY 2022 discretionary spending request. The original request included:
- $769 billion in proposed non-defense discretionary funding
- $753 billion for national defense programs
- $715 billion of that $753 billion is for the Department of Defense
- $97.5 billion for VA healthcare
- $2.1 billion for Veteran homelessness programs
The President’s 2022 discretionary request includes $715 billion for DOD. The request includes a major budget reform–funding requests for Overseas Contingency Operations (as a separate category) is to be discontinued. Going forward, such operations are funded from the Department of Defense “base budget”.
Based on the President’s original 2022 Discretionary Spending Request, the following highlights of the proposed defense budget for 2022 includes, but is not limited to, the following. You can compare these proposed amounts to the final version to get an idea of how defense budgets weather the approval process.
Digital Modernization including federal cybersecurity improvements totaling $500 million for the Technology Modernization Fund, plus $110 million for the Cybersecurity and Infrastructure Security Agency, and $750 million for federal information technology (IT) modernization.
Deterring China And Russia, including funds for Defense Research and Development to develop “next-generation defense capabilities”.
Modernizing U.S. Naval Shipbuilding to in part, continue “the recapitalization of the Nation’s strategic ballistic missile submarine fleet, and invests in remotely operated and autonomous systems”.
Modernizing the Nuclear Deterrent in support of nuclear upgrade programs “while ensuring that these efforts are sustainable”.
Investment in Long-Range Strike Capabilities such as “hypersonic strike” platforms and upgrading existing technologies to improve deterrence and “survivability”.
Investment In Resisting Climate Change. When the United States military acknowledges climate change as a threat, it’s a sign that real work needs to be done. The President’s FY 2022 discretionary spending request includes mention of this issue, referring to it as being “vital to national security” that U.S. military bases and operations are “resilient to climate-induced extreme weather”. The discretionary request seeks funds to “mitigate impacts of climate change and improve the resilience of DOD facilities and operations”.
Emerging Biological Threats are also addressed in the FY 2022 request, focusing on emerging infectious disease surveillance, medical responses to infectious diseases, and countermeasures.
Military Family Support. This part of the President’s request is intended to provide funding for programs supporting military spouses, caregivers, survivors, and dependents.
Funding for VA Programs. In addition to the $99.6 billion mentioned above, the President’s discretionary spending request includes includes $542 million for existing programs dedicated to Veteran suicide prevention.
2022 Defense Budget Approximate Approval Timeline:
Winter/Spring, 2021 – The President and DoD Releases the FY2022 Budget Proposal.
Spring/Summer 2021 – Congressional Review.
Summer/Fall 2021 – House & Senate Armed Appropriations Committees work on the FY2022 defense bill.
Summer/Fall 2021 – House of Representatives and Senate pass their versions of the defense bill and negotiate differences.
November/December 2021 – The House of Representatives and Senate seek to pass the final version of the defense bill.
December 2021 – The defense bill is typically signed into law.
Path to Last Year’s Defense Bill
Until the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act is drafted, signed, and passed, the timeline for the 2022 defense budget is incomplete. Until sufficient actions warrant mention here, we present last year’s timeline as an example of what can happen to the NDAA along the way. 2021’s journey from proposal to law is a good example of the kinds of twists and turns such legislation sometimes takes along the way to becoming law.
- 1/1/2021: On January 1, the Senate voted 81-13 to override the President’s veto of the NDAA. The bill passed in the Senate with a “veto proof” majority of 84-13 earlier this month, and the House has already voted to override the President’s veto. The bill now becomes law.
- 12/28/2020: The House voted 322-87 to override the President’s veto. The bill now becomes law if the Senate votes to override Trump.
- 12/27/2020: President Trump vetoed the defense bill on Wed. Dec. 23 and now Congress is working to line up the votes to override the veto. The House is preparing to vote on Dec. 28 with the Senate preparing to vote on Dec. 29, if the House vote is successful. Two-thirds majorities are needed in the House and Senate to overturn the president’s veto and enact the bill into law.
- 12/11/2020: The bill has been sent to President Trump who may veto the bill because it does not repeal section 230 which protects social media companies from liability for what their users post. However, there appears to be bi-partisan veto-proof support in Congress to pass the Defense Bill if President Trump vetoes it.
- 12/11/2020: The Senate voted overwhelmingly to approve the defense bill with a veto-proof majority. The vote was 84 to 13.
- 12/7/2020: The House passed a bipartisan veto-proof majority defense bill. The vote was 335 to 78.