On a 336-87 vote Friday, the Republican-controlled House overwhelmingly backed a $649 billion defense spending bill that boosts the Defense Department budget by $17 billion. This was reported in an article on MSNBC by Donna Cassata. This was a bipartisan vote that came at the same time that the White House and congressional negotiators are facing an Aug. 2 deadline to raise the nation’s debt limit so we do not default on payments authorized by Congress.
Republican leaders have slashed billions from the proposed budgets for other agencies, hitting food aid for low-income women, health research, energy efficiency, and much more. However, the military budget gets a double-digit increase beginning Oct. 1—the only agency to get one.
It’s the old guns or butter dilemma. Guns take priority over food for kids, Pell grants, and renewable energy, apparently.
Bill increases spending on wars that are supposed to be winding down
The bill provides $530 billion to the Pentagon and $119 billion to cover the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. It would buy various warships, aircraft and weapons, including jet engines and a C-17 cargo plane that the Pentagon did not request. This is good news for defense contractors who are big campaign contributors including Boeing. Apparantly, hungry children and students don’t contribute enough to candidates.
Defending this seemingly hypocritical vote by Republicans, Rep. Tom Price, (R-GA)., chairman of the House Republican Policy Committee, released this statement. “In the midst of a serious discussion about our nation’s debt crisis, House Republicans demonstrated responsible leadership that sets priorities and does not jeopardize our national security interests and our nation’s ongoing military efforts,”
Where is the Tea Party when we need them? Despite rhetoric about cutting wasteful spending, Congressional Tea Party Chair Michelle Bachmann voted for the bill So did other Tea Party candidates like Rep. Fincher (R-TN) .
It is hypocritical for Democrats to support it as well because they have been arguing that Congress should not solve the deficit on the back of children, the poor, and the vulnerable. Cutting other budgets and feeding the military industrial complex is not very consistent.
Some Democrats did protest. Rep. Barney Frank, (D-MA), scoffed at the suggestion that “everything is on the table” in budget negotiations between the Obama administration and congressional leaders.
“The military budget is not on the table,” he said. “The military is at the table, and it is eating everybody else’s lunch.”
This was too much for one Republican. Representative Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) said “many of us have gone around back home and told people how serious we are but how can we look them in the eye and tell them that we are serious about cutting spending and then come in and plus up the base defense budget?” He added: “We have made hard decisions. We have made hard choices. The Defense Department needs to do exactly the same.”
Bill cuts funding on military Chaplin training
This is even more hypocritical because they also voted to block money to train the Chaplain Corps on the practices it should use once the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy ends. This comes from Congressmen who rail about adhering to the Constitution. Rep. Tim Huelskamp, R-Kan., sponsor of the measure, said its purpose is to prohibit chaplains from performing same-sex marriages on military bases without regard to a state’s law. Guess he decides which parts of the Constitution should be adhered to and which should not. So much for reading it aloud on opening day.
The White House has threatened a veto, citing limits in the legislation on the president’s authority to transfer detainees from the U.S. prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, and money for defense programs the administration didn’t want.
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