After Pulling COVID Relief, House Passes Package With $782 Billion for Military

The House of Representatives approved Wednesday’s $1.5 trillion government spending bill. It includes $782 billion in U.S. Military funding, the largest part of the must-pass Omnibus legislation.

“Military, weapons, and detention contractors are the biggest winners in this budget,” the National Priorities Project (NPP) at the Institute for Policy Studies saidIn a statement. “In recent years, more than half of all military spending has gone to for-profit, private contractors. The new spending bill promises to continue this windfall, providing for even more expensive weapons system than the Pentagon requested, and promising to continue lucrative contracts for immigrant detention and surveillance.”

The House voted in favor of the massive Omnibus. two tranches: One focuses on military-related expenditures and the other non-military funding. Several progressives in the House, including Reps. Ilhan Obama (D-Minn.), and Cori Bush (D–Mo.), voted noOn the former yesThe latter.

After a long day behind the scenes, the votes were cast. Democrats rank-and file expressed outrage at $15 billion in Coronavirus Aid being funded in the bipartisan bill. It was funded by repurposing money previously set aside for state relief packages.

Republicans pushed for this funding plan, which angered Democrats, as states would receive federal funds dedicated to education and healthcare. yanked away. The House Democratic leadership ultimately prevailed. optedTo completely remove the Covid-19 relief spending form the Omnibus on Wednesday afternoon vowingto move the aid package forward in the near future.

“Instead of redistributing money from the astronomical, record-breaking $782 billion Pentagon budget, the House decided to cut all Covid relief from the latest spending package,” the peace group CodePink lamentedIn a Twitter post posted late Wednesday. “This is the definition of prioritizing the Pentagon (militarism and war) over the people.”

After the removal coronavirus funding, the chamber still had a sprawling funding package from the government that increased federal non-defense spending by almost 7% to $730billion and increased military spending by 6%.

The $782 billion in U.S. military funding included in the omnibus—which the Senate must pass by midnight Friday to avert a government shutdown—is $29 billion more than President Joe Biden originally requestedAnd a $42 Billion increase over the Fiscal Year 2020 level.

While the measure contains nearly $14 billion in emergency funding for Ukraine—including $3.5 billion for military equipment as the country fights Russia’s invasion—NPP noted Wednesday that “the vast majority of military spending in this bill is not about Ukraine.”

“The $6.5 billion in this bill for Department of Defense funding to counter the Ukraine invasion represents less than one percent of military spending in the bill,” NPP said. “Our longstanding patterns of spending on war have failed to prevent a disastrous war in Europe, while enriching corporate profiteers. And yet conservatives in Congress have insisted on a dollar-for-dollar match in any funding increases between domestic and military spending, leaving real needs unfunded.”

“Over the last two years, congressional opposition to unlimited Pentagon budgets and abusive immigrant detention practices has grown,” NPP added. “But this deal is a sign that there is still a long way to go before our funding priorities match our needs.”

Lisa Gilbert, executive vice president at Public Citizen, and co-chair of Clean Budget Coalition, applauded the House for passing legislation that would substantially increase non-defense funding levels but added, “It is extremely unfortunate to see continued increases in unnecessary military spending, insufficient funding to keep up the fight against the pandemic, and so many legacy poison pill policy riders reinserted into the final deal.”

“The damaging dynamic on Capitol Hill that accepts ballooning defense spending as the price to be paid for any modest increase in non-defense spending creates an endless stream of funding for the military-industrial complex while leaving everyday Americans struggling to meet their daily needs,” said Gilbert. “The huge, undiscerning sum of money funneled to the Pentagon in this package is a distinct loss for the American people.”