Top U.S. Senate Republican rejects Biden budget as inadequate on defense

U.S. Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) faces reporters following the Senate Republicans weekly policy lunch at the U.S. Capitol in Washington, U.S., March 8, 2022. REUTERS/Evelyn Hockstein

WASHINGTON, March 28 (Reuters) - U.S. Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell rejected President Joe Biden's $5.79 trillion budget plan on Monday, saying it was unacceptably light on defense spending at a time of heightened international tensions over Ukraine.

The proposed budget for the 2023 fiscal year, which starts on Oct. 1, lays out Biden administration priorities such as campaign promises to make the wealthy and companies pay more taxes that lawmakers on Capitol Hill will consider as they craft spending legislation.

"The White House budget request that President Biden published today offers the clearest possible reminder that the Biden administration’s far-left values are fundamentally disconnected from what American families actually need," McConnell said on the Senate floor.

"First and foremost, at a dangerous time, the president's budget falls woefully short on defense spending," he said.

House of Representatives Budget Committee Chairman John Yarmuth, a Democrat, challenged McConnell's expertise in military affairs during a press briefing, saying, "Tell me one source that he has for that...have him find me somebody in the Pentagon who says the same thing he does."

Biden's record peacetime national defense budget request of $813 billion includes a 4.6% pay raise for troops and the largest research and development budget in history, as Russian aggression in Ukraine spurs demands among lawmakers for more military spending. read more

The increase is about 1.5% above inflation, the Pentagon's financial chief Mike McCord told reporters on Monday.

McConnell, who previously demanded a 5% defense spending increase above inflation read more , said that the Biden budget could lead to an effective cutback for U.S. armed forces if inflation proved more stubborn than envisioned.

Reporting by David Morgan, Katharine Jackson and Richard Cowan; Additional reporting by Mike Stone; Editing by Aurora Ellis

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