On September 18, the Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act. The new budget included in the bill far exceeds the proposed amount that the Trump administration wanted to spend on the military; in fact, the bill calls for a budget of $700 billion for the 2018 fiscal year. The United States ranks highest in the world for military spending at the expense of more necessary domestic programs like universal healthcare or rebuilding a failing infrastructure. The United States lags behind the rest of the developed world in many areas including education, income equality, and overall happiness.
To go into more detail, the NDAA authorizes $141 billion for an increase in Army and Marine Corps personnel, including their pay, benefits, bonuses, and moving expenses. The increase in pay amounts to 2.1 percent. While there is nothing intrinsically wrong with increasing military pay, the budget takes into account more frequent military actions and deployment. The United States involves itself in almost every dispute and has since World War II; perhaps the nation should focus on efforts at home instead of meddling in affairs around the world. Much of the military budget goes toward the ongoing operations in the Middle East – part of the so-called War on Terror that has existed since 2001 and has no end goal in sight. No nation can survive on perpetual war.
Because the administration wants to increase missile defense systems for national, regional and space platforms, the NDAA allowed an extra $8.5 billion for missile defense programs. The only nation with a serious desire to use missile attacks is North Korea, and their program has yet to see true fruition.
One of the most disingenious things about the NDAA is that, out of the 300 proposed amendments, it lacks one prohibiting the automatic spending cuts that occur during a congressional sequester. These spending cuts result in government employee layoffs and hiring freezes, among other things. With rampant underemployment, the last thing the country needs is more citizens out of work.
The vote passed the Senate with an 89-8 majority. Senator Bob Corker (R-TN) voted against the bill, stating that the Overseas Contingency Act had been abused over the years to justify more bloated budgets. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) also voted against the bill; this should surprise no one. Sanders has a proven track record of voting in the interest of the American people, not the military-industrial complex or Wall Street investors. He continues to fight for equal economic opportunities for all and reasonable budgeting in Washington.