McCarthy weighs in on defense spending cuts amid GOP divisions

House Speaker Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) signaled his support Sunday for some cuts in defense spending amid growing tension within the House GOP ranks over the party’s approach to a coming debt limit fight.

During an appearance on Fox News’ “Sunday Morning Futures,” host Maria Bartiromo asked McCarthy if he was willing to cut defense spending as part of a reported deal within the GOP caucus to freeze spending at 2022 levels.

McCarthy disputed estimates that such a deal would result in a $75 billion cut to defense spending, while also signaling his support for targeted cuts.

“If we go back to ’22 levels, that was what we were spending just two or three weeks ago. That’s not cutting defense by $75 billion,” McCarthy told Bartiromo.

“Does defense getting more than $800 billion, are there areas that I think they could be more efficient in? Yeah. Eliminate all the money spent on wokeism. Eliminate all the money that they’re trying to find different fuels and they’re worried about the environment to go through,” McCarthy added.

“I want our men and women trained to be able to defend themselves, to secure, to have the best weapons systems possible.” 

McCarthy also noted that “every single level of government” should be looking at ways to spend less taxpayer money.

“Why would we sit back and be so arrogant to say no, there’s no waste in government?” McCarthy said. “Why wouldn’t we look at all the money that poured out during COVID? What money of that has not been spent? Why wouldn’t you pull that back yet?”

McCarthy’s remarks come as tensions grow within the House GOP over possible reductions to defense spending as a result of a deal McCarthy reportedly struck, in his bid to secure the speakership, to cap discretionary spending at fiscal 2022 levels.

That would effectively cut $75 billion from the $857 billion defense budget in fiscal 2023.

Multiple GOP lawmakers have spoken out against potential cuts to military spending, with Texas Rep. Tony Gonzalez (R) saying earlier this month that it was a “horrible idea,” citing the ongoing Russia-Ukraine war and other foreign threats.

“When you have aggressive Russia and Ukraine, you’ve got a growing threat of China in the Pacific, how am I going to look at our allies in the eye and say, ‘I need you to increase your defense budget, but yet America is going to decrease ours?’” Gonzalez said during an appearance on CBS’s “Face the Nation.”