A group of moderate Democrats this week expressed “significant concern” over potential cuts to defense spending as a result of a reported plan by House GOP leadership to cap fiscal year 2024 discretionary funds at FY ‘22 enacted levels.

Twelve members from the Blue Dog coalition of centrist Democrats sent a letter to new Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) urging him to reconsider pursuing such a proposal, which they said could lead to a $75 billion cut to the defense budget.

Low angled view of the U.S. Capitol East Facade Front in Washington, DC.

“That is why we respectfully request that you reconsider any support to such a defense spending cut, reportedly agreed-to absent necessary input from the congressional armed services and defense appropriations committees. We urge you to continue Congress’ bipartisan work to strengthen our national security,” the lawmakers wrote in their letter.

House Majority Leader Steve Scalise (R-La.) on Tuesday downplayed the potential for billions of dollars in defense spending cuts as part of a reported plan detailed during a closed-door GOP Conference meeting to limit discretionary spending in FY ‘24 at FY ‘22 enacted levels (Defense Daily, Jan. 10).

Reps. Jared Golden (D-Maine), Sanford Bishop (D-Ga.), J. Luis Correa (D-Calif.), Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), Vicente Gonzalez (D-Texas), Jim Costa (D-Calif.), Mikie Sherrill (D-N.J.), Ed Case (D-Hawaii), Abigail Spanberger (D-Va.), Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), Wiley Nickel (D-N.C.) and Donald Davis (D-N.C.) signed the letter sent on Tuesday to McCarthy.

“A $75 billion dollar cut to the defense budget would imperil our national security at a time in which the United States confronts an unprecedented array of global challenges; including an increasingly powerful and authoritarian China determined to supplant the U.S. as the dominant global political, economic, and military power, an aggressive Russia that threatens U.S. interests and which continues its unprovoked and illegal invasion of Ukraine, and rogue states North Korea and Iran that continue to develop nuclear weapons capabilities,” the lawmakers wrote.

The lawmakers note the recent bipartisan effort to pass a defense appropriations bill that included a $45 billion topline spending increase over the president’s request budget.

“We are deeply concerned that such a drastic cut in defense spending would not only undo this bipartisan consensus in support of our national defense, but would also endanger our long-term national security by injecting substantial uncertainty into the long-term defense budgetary planning necessary to ensure timely investments in personnel, procurement, readiness, and research and development,” the group wrote in their letter.

Golden, a signee on the letter, helped introduce a topline spending increase during the House Armed Services Committee’s (HASC) markup of the FY ‘23 National Defense Authorization Act.

Rep. Joe Courtney (D-Conn.), set to be the top Democrat on HASC’s Seapower Subcommittee, said Wednesday the FY ‘24 spending cap talks are “a fool’s errand,” calling it a “completely unrealistic policy” (Defense Daily, Jan. 11).