Senate Passes $700 Billion Defense Bill, Exceeding Trump’s Expectations


President Donald Trump's expectations were exceeded on Monday when the Senate passed a bipartisan $700 billion defense policy bill.

Senators voted 89-9 to approve the National Defense Authorization Act, delivering a Pentagon budget that far exceeds what Trump originally sought, the New York Times reports:

The vote marked the 56th consecutive year that Congress has passed the defense policy bill — a point of personal pride for Senator John McCain, the Arizona Republican who chairs the Senate Armed Services Committee, and who has spent the past week shepherding the bill on the Senate floor as he battles brain cancer.

In arguing for the increased funding, Mr. McCain cited a string of recent deadly accidents involving the military, including a collision last month between an oil tanker and the destroyer John S. McCain, named for the senator’s father and grandfather. Ten sailors were killed and five others injured.

"We are gambling with the lives of the best among us and we’re now seeing the cost — the tragic but foreseeable costs of an overworked, strained force with aging equipment and not enough of it," Mr. McCain said.

The 1,215-page bill covers a vast range of issues pertaining to military matters, including whether the Air Force can pay raises for service members or buy new fighter jets. The bill also allocated money to different military operations, including $640 billion for basic Pentagon operations, which was $37 billion more than Trump sought. The bill also provided another $60 billion for operations in Iraq, Syria, Afghanistan and other countries. The bill also focuses on provisions to streamline the management of of the Defense Department and boost military spending.

The bill also reflects on Sen. John McCain's (R., Ariz.) vision for the United States in world affairs as it "authorizes $500 million to provide security assistance, including weapons, to Ukraine; $100 million to help Balkan nations "deter Russian aggression;" and another $705 million for Israeli cooperative missile defense programs—$558.5 million more than the administration’s request," the Times reported:

But while the proposal outlines a hefty defense budget, whether the Pentagon gets the money will be determined by congressional appropriators, and Democrats have pledged to block major increases in military spending without a similar boost for domestic programs.

"It’s a grandiose spending plan," Senator Richard J. Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate, said in a recent interview.

Before the bill can be sent to the president for his signature, it must be reconciled with the House version. They are different in a critical respect; the House-passed bill authorizes the creation of a new Space Corps, to manage satellite and other space-related programs, while the Senate bill does not.

Cameron Cawthorne

Cameron Cawthorne   Email Cameron | Full Bio | RSS
Cameron Cawthorne is a Media Analyst for the Washington Free Beacon. He graduated from the University of Virginia in 2013. Prior to joining Free Beacon, Cameron was a Legislative Assistant in the Virginia General Assembly and a War Room Analyst at America Rising.

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