Sullivan votes against lifting debt ceiling, saying the bill didn’t have enough money for military

man standing at a microphone
Sen. Dan Sullivan in Anchorage in July 2021. (Jeff Chen/Alaska Public Media)

The U.S. Senate passed a bill to avoid defaulting on the federal debt Thursday night, on a 63-36 vote. But it stalled for a few hours when a group of senators, including Alaska’s Dan Sullivan, argued the bipartisan agreement doesn’t spend enough on the military.

Sullivan said these are dangerous times.

“Authoritarian dictators with immense appetite for conquests are on the march. And yet, what does this budget agreement do? It cuts defense spending significantly,” he said from the Senate floor.

The agreement increases next year’s defense spending by 3.3%, which is below the level of inflation.

Sullivan was in a group of six Republican senators who took to the Senate floor Thursday to argue the defense spending level was too low. Sullivan tried to amend the bill by moving $18 billion in funding from the Internal Revenue Service to the Pentagon.

“The choice is clear,” he said just before the vote on his amendment. “More Navy ships, soldiers and Marines to protect America, or more IRS agents to harass Americans?”

The amendment needed 60 votes to pass. It got 49.

The compromise bill already cuts into the funding boost Congress gave the IRS last year. The Biden administration and Senate Democrats say the agency needs the money to modernize and crack down on wealthy tax cheats.

Sullivan voted against the final bill, citing the level of military funding. Sen. Lisa Murkowski voted for it.

Liz Ruskin is the Washington, D.C., correspondent at Alaska Public Media. Reach her Read more about Lizhere.

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