$1.3 Trillion Budget Rammed Through the Senate, Headed for More War-Makingby Jessica Corbett, staff writer Common Dreams March 26, 2018
Safety Net Programs Threatened – Alarmed anti-war advocates are calling it “outrageous” that nearly half of the $1.3 trillion omnibus spending deal rammed through the Senate in the early morning hours of Friday is heading directly to the Pentagon.
With that kind of money, say progressives, “we could be ending homelessness, making universal preschool and higher ed available to all, and repairing roads and bridges.”
The final deal (pdf)—which, despite a feigned veto threat Friday morning, President Donald Trump is expected to sign later in the day to avoid another government shutdown—contains $700 billion in military and war spending.
As the Republican lawmakers and president aim to make it harder for poor Americans to get by, the $700 billion in defense spending, as CNBC outlines, “will be spread over the Pentagon’s base budget of $589.5 billion and $65.2 billion for the overseas contingency operations,” which pays for U.S. operations in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Africa, and elsewhere.
Joint attack on safety net programs
Peace advocates not only disapproved of the $80 billion boost in military spending over the previous budget—they also pointed to how those funds could be used to better serve Americans. As Diane Randall, executive secretary of Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), a Quaker lobby for peace and justice, put it:
While the Senate was deliberating on the spending bill late Thursday, Randall’s group shared a Nation article that describes the Trump administration and GOP lawmakers’ joint attack on safety net programs, which includes “a proposal to punish immigrants for participating in programs like Head Start; closing a Department of Justice office that was created to make legal aid more accessible; repealing guidance to judges that suggested they consider an individual’s ability to pay a fine before allowing her to languish in jail; imposing work requirements and time limits on people who need assistance with healthcare, housing, or food.”
It specifically allocates $144.3 billion for military equipment, including Navy ships, F-35 and F/A-18 fighter jets, and the Missile Defense Agency. CNBC notes that “the defense-friendly bill also provides $238 billion for operations and maintenance, $89.2 billion for research and development, and $137.7 billion for personnel pay—a 2.4 percent increase from fiscal year 2017.”
This win for the Defense Department—and by extension, its private contractors—comes as Trump has announced that warmonger John Bolton will take over as the president’s national security adviser early next month.