As The War Machine Keeps Turning- House Passes $610 Billion Military Budget
The US House of Representatives has passed a $610 billion military in a 277-147 bipartisan vote on Wednesday. The Pentagon’s base budget is set at $551 billion while giving it another $59 billion for ‘overseas contingency operations.’ On Monday, President Obama had threatened to veto the bill over Republican attempts to shift $18 billion from this ‘overseas fund’ to cover expenses in the base military budget.
Republicans attempted to argue that the money is needed to address a military readiness crisis affecting 27,000 active-duty troops and about 25,000 reservists and pay for aircraft and ships requested by the services. As written, this legislation prohibits the Army from falling below 480,000 active-duty soldiers and offers a 2.1 percent pay raise for troops.
The White House firmly opposes reducing the ‘war fund,’ arguing that it would weaken the US military in conflict zones and turn it into a hollow force, with Defense Secretary Ashton Carter describing the strategy as a “road to nowhere.” However, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Mac Thornberry claims that the next president, whoever that may be, will submit a war supplemental budget to Congress upon taking office in 2017 to make up for the difference.
The House bill also restricts transfers of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the US mainland, prevents Obama from closing military bases, and bans the retirement of the A-10 Warthog attack jets.
As the bill was still under debate, a Democrat amendment to revoke a 2001 authorization that Congress gave then President George W. Bush to attack any countries or groups he deemed involved in the 9/11 attacks was summarily dismissed. Meanwhile, the CIA continues to downplay rumors of Saudi involvement in the attack for some reason. “I am extremely disappointed that my colleagues left a blank check for endless war on the books,” said Rep. Barbara Lee, who authored the amendment.