Defense budget topping $1 trillion ‘inevitable,’ Pentagon comptroller says

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The Department of Defense’s comptroller believes it’s only a matter of time before the Pentagon’s budget eclipses a trillion dollars.

Michael J. McCord, the Pentagon’s comptroller and chief financial officer, told reporters on Monday that it’s “inevitable” the budget will break the $1 trillion threshold. Top military leaders from the Pentagon and each of the service branches spoke to reporters about President Joe Biden’s new proposed 2024 defense budget.

“Just do the math. The budget will hit a trillion dollars probably before — even if it only grew 3% a year, the numbers are what they are,” McCord explained. “It’s inevitable. And I think … that’s gonna be a psychological, big watershed moment for many of us, some of us, but it is inevitable. And it just reflects the growth of the economy, among other things.”

Biden’s budget, released last week, includes $842 billion for the Department of Defense and another roughly $44 billion for non-Pentagon defense spending, totaling approximately $886 billion. The request for Pentagon spending, specifically, is a $26 billion increase from the $816 billion that was enacted in the 2023 budget, and this most recent request is a tad below $100 billion more than the enacted 2022 spending.

McCord defended the president’s budget request despite noting there were certain things left out, though he explained they were low priority.

“Just back on the sufficiency of the top line, I would say the secretary believes this is a good number,” he said. “He’s happy with this number, and this doesn’t buy everything that we would have liked to do. We had some other good ideas as a collective DOD group that we could not get in at this level. But we got our highest priorities in, and we’re happy with that.”