On Wednesday, the House Armed Services Committee approved this year’s defense authorization bill. The bill increases the Pentagon’s budget by $4 billion over the president’s request and sets Pentagon spending at $8 billion more than allowed in last August’s Budget Control Act.
While Congress is moving to slash other programs in the name of deficit reduction, this bill funds a number of programs that even the Pentagon has said they don’t want or need. One example is a missile-defense site on the East Coast which would cost billions of dollars over the coming years. The bill would also increase funding for nuclear weapons programs. The bill is likely to move to the floor of the full House next week.
Support for this bill is particularly glaring in light of the House vote yesterday on a proposal by Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.). Ryan’s bill replaced “sequestration” cuts to the Pentagon with cuts instead to other programs, including nutrition and health care. A Democratic alternative which was not allowed to come up for a vote would have reduced the deficit by limiting subsidies to the oil and gas industries and increasing taxes on millionaires. Neither version–Republican nor Democratic–made any cuts to the Pentagon, which already receives more than half of all discretionary spending.