Last week, U.S. Sen. Richard Shelby (R-Tuscaloosa) dinged the Biden administration for its Navy and Marine Corps funding request during a Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Defense hearing.
Shelby, the committee's vice-chairman, raised his concerns before testimony from Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro, Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Michael Gilday and Commandant of the Marine Corps General David Berger before the committee.
"The Department of the Navy has played and will continue to play a critical role in the defense of our nation," Shelby said. "The capabilities that it has and the future capabilities that it pursues communicates our resolve to both our adversaries and to our allies. While it's important that the Navy continue to man, train, and equip a ready force, we must also prioritize, as we've talked, key modernization priorities. These priorities include hypersonic weapons and recapitalization of the Navy's nuclear arsenal, all while keeping a sharp watch on our adversaries today.
"China and Russia, as the chairman said, continue to make unprecedented expenditures in advanced weapons, demonstrating new capabilities and their commitment to increase capacity. And while the U.S. seeks to maintain military superiority, it's concerning to all of us that the total funding requested for the Department of the Navy and Marine Corps does not even keep pace with inflation. I'm concerned about this -- that -- what this communicates to both our allies and our adversaries. Therefore, I look forward to hearing how the fiscal '23 budget request proposes to meet the needs of the Navy and the Marine Corps while preserving our current and our future advantages."
Later, during Shelby's allotted question-and-answer time, he reiterated his concern about the Biden administration's low funding request, adding Congress would work toward more military funding despite the direction from the White House.
"A lot of people, including this senator, believe that the request is not enough considering the problems in the world," Shelby said. "We understand that you're a part of this administration. Inflation is eroding, even today, eroding what you're asking for.
"We'll have to make that determination in working with the House for the [out years], but we've got to get our arms wound around inflation first and then try to boost our defense capabilities in a dangerous world. I know you have to be restrained by some things in the administration, but we don't, you know, here, and we're going to continue to try to make you funded and not underfunded, you know, in defense."
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