The Senate, by an overwhelming 89-8 vote, approved legislation that will authorize $700 billion in military defense spending that will honor the campaign pledge made by President Trump to rebuild the military that he said was degraded during the previous Obama administration.
This $700 billion bill will put the U.S. armed forces on track for a bigger budget than at any time during the previous war years while engaged in the GWOT (Global War on Terror). The authorization begins in the fiscal year that begins on Oct. 1. It addressed the growing missile crisis in North Korea and expands US missile defenses.
The bill also went against Trump and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ wishes by refusing to close what the administration called excess military bases. The 1,215-page bill is not expected to be vetoed by the President.
Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and other national security hawks have insisted the military branches are at risk of losing their edge in combat without a dramatic influx of money to repair shortfalls in training and equipment. Congress’ failure to supply adequate budgets is at least partly responsible for a series of deadly ship collisions and helicopter crashes, according to McCain, the Armed Services Committee chairman.
Approved by the Armed Services Committee by a 27-0 vote in late June, the overall Senate bill provides $640 billion for core Pentagon operations, such as buying weapons and paying troops, and another $60 billion for wartime missions in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria and elsewhere. Trump’s budget request sought $603 billion for basic functions and $65 billion for overseas missions.
With North Korea’s nuclear program a growing threat to the U.S. and its allies, the bill includes $8.5 billion to strengthen U.S. missile and defense systems. That’s $630 million more than the Trump administration sought for those programs, according to a committee analysis.
Several amendments were discussed but not put as part of the bill including a proposal Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and Susan Collins, R-Maine, that would have protected transgender service members from being kicked out of the armed forces.
The bill also earmarked $10.6 billion for 94 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, which is two dozen more than Trump requested. It also proposes $25 billion to pay for 13 ships, which is $5 billion and five ships more than the Trump administration sought.
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