A Republican 'House Divided': 2024 Defense Budget on Hold as Shutdown Looms
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A Republican House divided -- that's the feeling over continued infighting between House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-CA) and the more conservative wing of his own party.
The current target for these lawmakers is the spending bill that would keep the government from running out of money, but caught in the middle is the 2024 Defense bill.
While this measure is considered one of the most conservative in history, twice this week a faction of Republicans have blocked it from advancing through to debate. On Tuesday, five GOP congressmen joined Democrats to block the bill from consideration. On Thursday, that number rose to six.
"How does this look on the world stage when we can't even as a country, as a Congress, pass the defense budget? Where do our priorities lie," questioned Rep. Jen Kiggans (R-VA).
Kiggans is one of many service members in her family, and she represents one of the country's largest active-duty military populations. The congresswoman told CBN News the people in her district will pay a great price for the inaction of Congress.
"They are my friends. They are my neighbors. They're already struggling with some of the economic challenges. We've got inflation that's still record-breaking. They're still having trouble not only paying regular bills. But if you wanted to buy a new home or a new car, we're seeing interest rates that are higher than ever. These are people on fixed incomes. Our military lives on fixed incomes. My veterans live on fixed incomes," Kiggans said.
The major issue centers around the debt ceiling deal struck in late May between McCarthy and President Biden. In it, the administration agreed to a spending cap, but according to Dakota Wood, senior research fellow for Defense Programs at The Heritage Foundation, the White House has increasingly requested more money.
"So there are those in the Freedom Caucus and other parts of the Republican Party saying, 'Well, wait a minute. If you're going to try to increase spending, you know, in violation of this earlier agreement that we didn't necessarily agree with, that we, you know, went ahead and went along with, then we're going to show our disagreements by being very much opposed to the current budget negotiations going into the fiscal year,'" Wood told CBN News.
While Kiggans agrees government spending is out of control, she does not believe the military and national security should be used as leverage.
"I understand those frustrations of wanting to cut the top line number down in fiscal year '22 levels, and perhaps even lower, but military and defense spending is not the place to be cutting right now, especially with what's going on in the world," Kiggans said.
As McCarthy struggles to unite House Republicans, Senate Democrats warn the House spending bill will be dead on arrival, making a government shutdown an even greater possibility.
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