You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Freedom Caucus leader weighs in on military 'wokeness' and defense spending cuts

Washington Examiner logo Washington Examiner 2/2/2023 Mike Brest
© Provided by Washington Examiner

House Republicans want spending cuts and won't rule out finding them in the Defense Department's budget, though it's not clear as to whether that will ultimately result in a smaller top-line number, according to one influential member of Congress.

Rep. Scott Perry (R-PA), the leader of the House Freedom Caucus, told the Washington Examiner in an interview that he believes the party should go through all of the Defense Department's policies to find areas where Congress can save some federal dollars, though he noted it's too early to tell if next year's budget will increase from this year's $858 billion total.


"I don't have a numeric goal" for what the budget should be, he said. "Maybe some do. But my goal is the strongest defense affordable to secure the nation and make sure that we're prepared to deal with our adversaries in all theaters, in all paradigms appropriately. And quite honestly, to a certain extent, bringing back into focus the primary mission of DOD, which is the defense of the nation and making sure adversaries can't be successful in opposing our national interest."

He specifically referenced "the Green New Deal" and "woke culturalization" as areas they could target for cuts.

The House Freedom Caucus represents the Republican lawmakers most committed to cutting spending wherever possible, not necessarily exempting defense. But other Republicans do not want a smaller number for the defense budget, though there does appear to be a consensus that the department should end its diversity and inclusion programs.

Congressional Republicans are more broadly trying to get some cuts in return for increasing the debt ceiling, over White House opposition.

"I think we've got a long way to go. I think that every member of Congress, including those in the Freedom Caucus, understand the constitutional requirement for national defense, but we also know that every program is worthy of scrutiny and oversight, and we can always do better," Perry said. "The Green New Deal policies and the woke policies that have infected the military, I think, are going to be a unifying prospect for the Republican conference in defense spending."

Similarly, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mike Rogers (R-AL) said to The Hill: “We’re going to cut money that’s being spent on wokeism. We’re going to cut legacy programs. We’re going to cut a lot of waste."

He also told the Washington Examiner that "the House Armed Services Committee is conducting thorough oversight to determine which programs undermine our ability to build the ready, capable, and lethal fighting force we need to deter China and our other adversaries.”

The House Freedom Caucus, at large, initially held up Rep. Kevin McCarthy's (R-CA) bid for speaker, which he ultimately won, but not after making concessions to the group, which reportedly included spending cuts. McCarthy met with President Joe Biden on Wednesday to discuss raising the country's $31.4 trillion debt ceiling.

McCarthy said after the meeting there's "an opportunity here to come to an agreement on both sides ... long before the deadline," which is estimated to be in June, but he would not commit to a "clean" debt ceiling bill or announce potential spending cuts.

The Defense Department is focused on helping Ukraine defeat Russia's aggression. The United States has provided roughly $27 billion worth of military aid, much of it from its own stockpiles, and has trained Ukrainian forces on them. Officials believe Russia will launch a renewed offensive in the coming weeks, while Ukraine's forces will also likely try to mount their own efforts to liberate occupied territory.


There have been some members within the House Republican caucus who have called for the U.S. to stop aiding Ukraine, though they are in the minority. McCarthy made headlines in November for saying the aid to Ukraine should not be "a blank check," which raised concerns that support for providing military aid could be short-lived.

Perry, an Army veteran, said it's "unacceptable" that Ukrainian forces are, at times, getting weapons right off the assembly line instead of used equipment.

"I have concerns about how that's being done and, of course, the cost of it, and I also have concerns about what equipment Ukraine gets vis-a-vis what might be on the shelf for us as opposed to coming off the assembly line," the congressman said. "The United States service members should always receive the most modern, fresh, new equipment off the line. If we're going to be sending stuff to our allies in Ukraine, you know, that's a discussion in and of itself. But if we are going to be sending that stuff, our soldiers deserve the best stuff first, and if we have additional stuff, then that can go if that decision has been made."


Washington Examiner Videos

Tags: National Security, News, Foreign Policy, House Republicans, Department of Defense, War in Ukraine, House Freedom Caucus, Washington D.C.

Original Author: Mike Brest

Original Location: Freedom Caucus leader weighs in on military 'wokeness' and defense spending cuts


More from Washington Examiner

Washington Examiner
Washington Examiner
image beaconimage beaconimage beacon