PICTURED: The Pentagon, headquarters of the Department of Defense, Washington D.C.
WASHINGTON D.C., July 30th, 2020. Proceedings were brought to a close in the House regarding H.R. 7617, the Department of Defense Appropriations Act for 2021 – a package in military spending equal to roughly $550 billion.
Having already passed the 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2021, which authorized around $740 billion, the House is now amending proposals for the Pentagon’s budget.
While not all of the $550 billion appropriated is likely to be spent, as many of the sections and line items include restrictions and provisions on how much money can be used, the War on Terror was filled with stories of military spending and waste in order to prevent appropriations amounts from declining.
For example, money appropriated for a branch of the military or intelligence services cannot be committed to a multiyear contract worth more than $500 million, and if the totals are not expended, only 20% of obligated spending will be made available during the last 2 months of the fiscal year.
Notable line items include Sec. 8069 which obligates half a billion dollars from the Defense-Wide Procurement Fund of $5.4 billion toward Israeli Cooperative Programs, but only if $73 million of the half billion provided is spent on the new Iron Dome Missile Defense System built by the American arms manufacturer Raytheon.
Elsewhere $270 million was appropriated to “construct, renovate, repair, or expand elementary and secondary public schools on military installations,” and $6 billion was set aside until September 2022 for the purpose of compensating key cooperating nations supporting the military U.S. presence in Iraq, Syria, and Afghanistan.
Currently, the Congressional Budget Office reports that the current total tax revenue is around $2.3 trillion, while current federal spending is around $5.1 trillion on budget, with an additional trillion of “off budget” spending.
These spending levels are a backdrop of the current debate surrounding the second big COVID-19 stimulus package, with the GOP-controlled Senate and Democratic-leveraged House arguing over who should get how much, and how many dollars should be spent.
A recent $1 trillion coronavirus relief bill was proposed in the Senate by Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, (R-KY) though Democrats are deeply skeptical about its motives and structure, highlighted by the fact that it, for some reason, includes $2 billion to renovate the FBI building on Pennsylvania Ave.
Like the pot calling the kettle black however, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi’s 1st round of coronavirus stimulus, called the CARES Act, also included frivolous favors for constituents, with tens of million going to the Kennedy Center of Performing Arts, and billions going to the National Endowment for the Arts and Humanities, the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, and The Institute of Museum and Library Services.
The Pelosi version of the CARES Act also included $1.2 billion for selected airlines to purchase “renewable jet fuel,” so the hypocrisy of singling out the FBI renovations section of McConnell’s latest proposal is rather blatant.
The massive increases in spending this year are paired with a second-quarter-shrinkage of more-than 30% in the United States GDP and consumer spending, which is as large as has ever been observed since records started being taken in 1947. The dollar fell to a five-year low against the Swiss Franc, and continues to fall.