President Joe Biden on Monday responded to Republican criticism of the defense spending included in the deal he reached with House Speaker Kevin McCarthy over the weekend to avert a potentially catastrophic default in the nation’s debt.
Speaking with reporters on the South Lawn of the White House as he departed for Delaware, Biden brushed off the concerns and suggested that if any further defense spending was needed, he had “no doubt” it would have bipartisan approval.
“Look, whatever the fighting force needs, if there’s another – first of all, they’ve passed my budget. What I asked for in defense, they passed it. Obviously if there’s any existential need for additional funding, I have no doubt we’d be able to get it because we’d jointly do it,” Biden said when questioned about Republicans’ complaints.
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Biden’s comments come as Republican rhetoric continues to heat up over concern about the defense budget included in the agreement. Earlier on Monday, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., vowed he would do everything within his power to “undo” the bipartisan debt ceiling bill and the “disaster” he said it would be for America’s defense.
“I will use all powers available to me in the Senate to have amendment votes to undo this catastrophe for defense,” Graham wrote on Twitter. “I support raising the debt limit for 90 days to give us a chance to correct this disaster for defense.”
“Have total disgust for political leaders’ decision to make it remotely possible to gut our national security apparatus at a time of great peril. Take this absurd idea off the table,” he added.
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Biden and McCarthy reached an agreement on the debt ceiling late Sunday, just days ahead of the expected June 5 deadline to avoid a debt default. They released the House version of the bill later in the evening.
The deal includes a 3% rise in defense spending next year, less than the current annual inflation rate of more than 4%. It would also keep nondefense spending roughly flat in the 2024 fiscal year and increase it by 1% the following year, as well as provide for a 2-year debt-limit increase.
The House Rules Committee will meet at 3 p.m. on Tuesday to prepare the debt ceiling bill for a debate on the floor Wednesday.
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Fox News’ Danielle Wallace, Chad Pergram and Bradford Betz contributed to this report.