In the first half of 2023, defense contractors and other players in the defense sector spent nearly $70 million lobbying the U.S. federal government, primarily focusing on the 2024 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The NDAA, an annual appropriations bill, allocates a total of $876.8 billion, with $844.3 billion dedicated to the Department of Defense and $32.4 billion to the Department of Energy for national security programs.
One of the most significant lobbying efforts was centered around the procurement of F-35 combat aircraft, the most expensive U.S. military project to date. Lockheed Martin, the manufacturer of F-35 aircraft, spent about $6.9 million on in-house lobbying in the first two quarters of 2023. Lobbying firm theGROUP DC received $90,000 from Lockheed Martin to monitor the F-35 program during the same period.
RTX, formerly known as Raytheon, also focused its lobbying efforts on the F-35 program. After spending about $5.78 million on lobbying and almost $105,000 on federal political contributions, RTX was awarded a $306 million contract to build F-135 systems in October 2023.
In addition to lobbying, the defense sector made a total of $3 million in political contributions to Armed Services Committee members in the first two quarters of 2023. General Dynamics contributed the highest amount, over $205,000, to members of the House and Senate Armed Services Committees.
The NDAA has passed both chambers of Congress and will go through a formal conference process before being sent to the President. The ongoing search for a Speaker of the House has prolonged the process.