[ With the approved $422.2 billion, Bush
would spend more on the military than the next 25 countries combined … while reducing funding for programs that address vital human security and environmental needs at home and abroad. Add proposed spending for foreign military aid and training and mandatory spending on military retirement and health care, and the cost would rise to $470 billion. [Friends Committee on National Legislation]
Nor does this include the bulk of the Administration’s to-be-requested additional Iraq and Afghanistan war funding, not expected until after the November election (on top of the more than $166 billion already approved for these projects, and largely spent). This past week, Bush asked Congress for an additional $25 billion prior to the election. Such military expenditures facilitate the Bush-Republicans’ goal of eroding the funding available to social programs (see http://costofwar.com and “The President’s War Budget”). It’s not government spending per se that Bush-Republicans object to, but spending to help the disadvantaged. –BL ]
U.S. Senate panel clears $422.2 billion defense bill
by Vicki Allen
WASHINGTON – The U.S. Senate Armed Services Committee approved a $422.2 billion bill authorizing next year’s defense programs, up 3.4 percent or $21 billion from this year, the committee said on Friday.
The Senate bill largely tracks President George W. Bush’s request for the Pentagon and the Energy Department’s nuclear weapons programs, committee aides said, but calls for boosting funds for weapons procurement to $76.5 billion, $1.8 billion above Bush’s request.
Responding to demands for better force protection in Iraq and Afghanistan, the bill calls for $925 million above Bush’s request for additional armored vehicles, for a total of $1.05 billion.
It also adds $107.4 million for the Army and Marine Corps for equipment such as night vision devices and automatic weapons.
The House of Representatives Armed Services Committee also is working on its bill, and both the full Senate and House are expected to debate the measure later this month.
The House bill is expected to call for increasing the Army by 30,000 troops and the Marines by 9,000, despite the administration’s opposition to permanent force increases.
While the Senate bill follows the administration’s policy on that, the issue of whether U.S. forces have become too stretched by Iraq and Afghanistan is expected to spark major floor debate.
Congress later will consider the appropriations bills that actually fund the Pentagon programs.
The Senate committee’s bill authorizes $10.2 billion to continue the administration’s effort to field a ballistic missile defense system.
It calls for $3.4 billion to buy 22 F/A Raptor aircraft, $2.9 billion for 42 F/A-18 Super Hornet aircraft, and $1 billion for 11 C-120J and four KC-130J aircraft.
The Joint Strike Fighter would get $4.6 billion, including an additional $15 million to assess the potential for a vertical landing variant.
The bill authorizes $6.7 billion to buy seven ships, including three DDG-51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers, a Virginia class submarine, an LPD-17 San Antonio-class amphibious transport dock ship, and two T-AKE auxiliary cargo and ammunition ships.
It authorized $1.5 billion in research and development funds for the DD (X) destroyer, including $221 million for detail design and advance construction of the lead ship.