There are few bipartisan projects in Congress these days, but Republicans and Democrats have no trouble joining together to feed more money into the Pentagon’s gaping maw.
By a vote of 85-10 on Thursday morning, the Senate approved the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA)—technically known as the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act” because you wouldn’t vote against something named after an American hero, right? It serves as the budget for the U.S. military, which this year is receiving $716 billion, an increase of $82 billion from last year. That increase was agreed upon in March as part of an overall two-year budget deal that smashed Obama-era spending caps and boosts military spending by $165 over the next two years.
It’s not just that military spending crosses party lines, but that it smooths over nearly every political division in Washington today. Democrats have shown virtually no interest in Trump’s major policy priorities, but only seven Democrats plus Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who caucuses with Democrats, voted against Trump’s new nukes. Sens. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah) were the only Republicans to vote against the NDAA. An attempt by Sander, Lee, and some other senators to include an amendment prohibiting the Pentagon from continuing to participate in an unauthorized war in Yemen was defeated.
The spending increase will allow the Pentagon to buy more fighter jets, to create “cyberwarfare units,” and to develop new, smaller nuclear weapons. There is, however, no Space Force. The extra $82 billion will “bring us back to a position of primacy,” Defense Secretary James Mattis said in February.
To put the Pentagon’s $82 billion funding increase in perspective, consider that Russia’s entire military budget totals only $61 billion. China, which boast the next most expensive military in the world after the United States, plans to spend about $175 billion this year.
Maybe the problem isn’t how much funding the military receives, but how the money it already gets is spent. Unfortunately, we don’t know much about that because the Pentagon has still not been subjected to a full scale audit, despite the fact that all federal agencies and departments were ordered to undergo mandatory audits in 1990.