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Just after the U.S. military’s 20-year-long Afghanistan mission came to an end, House legislators approved almost $24 billion in extra defense spending supposedly needed to maintain America’s competitive edge against Russia and China.
The House Armed Services Committee held a marathon session on Wednesday to approve an increase in the military spending under the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
Lawmakers from both parties joined ranks to challenge President Joe Biden’s decision to keep the Pentagon budget at $715 billion for next year, which would maintain it at the same level as the previous year. Due to the bipartisan move, an extra $23.9 billion was approved to go into weapons procurement, research and other areas.
The original proposal was introduced by Rep. Mike Rogers of Alabama, the ranking Republican member on the committee, who welcomed the passage of his proposal as a snub to Biden from his own party.
“The bipartisan adoption of my amendment sends a clear signal: the president’s budget submission was wholly inadequate to keep pace with a rising China and a re-emerging Russia,” he said.
https://t.co/PZNdSJaL0J Year after year we are told that Medicare for all, or free college is unaffordable; yet the pentagon and military budgets continue to increase without question. It's time to put the priority of people before the priority of endless wars.
The increase of top line spending to $740 billion was passed against the objections of Armed Services Committee Chair Adam Smith of Washington. The Democrat argued that the added financial boost would prevent the Pentagon from curbing wastefulness.
The Department of Defense needs to “do a better job of acquisition and procurement, do a better job of anticipating what the threats are now, versus what they were 30 years ago,” Smith pointed out in his arguments. "If we give them another $23.9 billion, it takes the pressure off. It makes it easier for them to just keep doing what they’ve been doing."
Fourteen Democrats voted alongside with the Republican lawmakers on Rogers’ amendment, securing passage by a vote of 42-17. The supporters from the Democrat ranks represent districts that rely on military spending or have served in the military themselves.
The House markup session took place just after the U.S. Afghanistan mission was formally ended this week. The pullout left over $6 billion in unspent funds in Pentagon coffers, which were allocated previously for the now-disbanded Afghan Security Forces. Those included some $600 million left unspent since FY2020, $2.3 billion from the current year and $3.3 billion requested for FY2022 and approved in June.
While the two parties may clash on assigning the blame for the Afghanistan exit and other visible foreign policy blunders, this budget increase passage sends a clear sign that the consensus across the party lines on grading the Pentagon’s spending wishes remains as strong as ever.