By Charlie Kimber
Downloading PDF. Please wait... Issue 2795

US budget hands almost £600 billion to the military

The US military budget is already bigger than at the height of the Cold War
Issue 2795
A B52 stratofortress a heavy bomber in the US Airforce, illustrating an article on the US budget

The US military budget is larger than the next 11 countries combined (Picture: US Air Force/Flickr)

Amid the drumbeats of war, the US House of Representatives agreed on a huge budget for the military on Wednesday. For federal spending up to 30 September, it hands the military £594 billion while earmarking only £550 billion for domestic spending. 

Almost all Democrats and Republicans backed the bill. The Pentagon military budget is already higher than at the peak of the Vietnam War or Cold War. And it is higher than the next 11 countries combined.

Republicans boasted that they had defeated any push to cut money for weapons and soldiers and kept in place their pet measures such as the Hyde Amendment. This bans federal funding for most abortions.

The National Priorities Project argues for welfare not warfare. “At a time when the world is searching for answers to Russia’s inexcusable and devastating invasion of Ukraine, the US military budget is also 12 times the size of Russia’s,” it said. “More military spending is clearly not the answer.” The vast war spending measures include over £8 billion to buy and upgrade 85 F-35 aircraft and a further £2.25 for the development of a new Air Force stealth nuclear bomber, the B-21.

The bill then passed through the Senate on Thursday.

The rise in military spending is up £32 billion from Donald Trump’s level. There was also money for racist measures against migrants and refugees. It continues or increases Trump-era funding for Immigrations and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Patrol. These are the agencies responsible for family separations and millions of detentions.

The lawmakers more than doubled what the Biden administration requested in emergency aid for Ukraine, sending about £5 billion to the Pentagon for military assistance. But there was no money for urgent Covid measures. An article in The New York Times comments, “Facing disputes over how to cover the cost of the pandemic response effort, Democrats dropped it rather than jeopardise legislation that includes aid for Ukraine.”

When Biden was elected, there were hopes he might turn at least a little away from cash for war. Instead the Democrats have collapsed and embraced Republican policies. 

Republican Senate leader Mitch McConnell crowed, “This agreement provides significantly more money than the Biden Administration requested for defence. And significantly less money than the Administration requested for non-defence. 

“At my insistence, it also provides much more money for Ukraine than Democrats had proposed, particularly for authorities and funding to deliver crucial military equipment to Ukraine quickly.”

Martin Luther King Jr said in his Beyond Vietnam speech, “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defence than on programmes of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

That was half a century ago, but it hasn’t changed.

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