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Amid Pandemic, Proposed Chem-Bio Cuts Will Be Used to Pay for Hypersonic Missiles and Nuclear Arsenal

Defense Secretary Mark Esper (left) tours the U.S Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases (USAMRID) during his visit to Fort Detrick on March 17, 2020. Photo by Nicole Mejia

Lost in the fine print of the Defense Wide Review of fiscal 2021 was a proposed drop in funding for research and procurement initiatives in the Chemical and Biological Defense Program — from $1.4 billion this fiscal year to $1.2 billion.

Throughout the Trump administration, spending on the chem-bio program has lagged behind the rate of surge in the wider defense budget. The proposed fiscal 2021 cut would reduce spending on programs such as protective shelters for troops, decontamination gear and systems for detecting when dangerous agents are present, according to the budget documents.

The Senate adopted without debate on July 1 an amendment to its defense authorization bill by Utah Republicans Mitt Romney and Mike Lee that would require Esper to explain the impact of reducing chem-bio spending.

Read more at Roll Call

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