Senators Pushing Funding For U.S. Pentagon

( The Senate Armed Services Committee has endorsed a new defense authorization bill that would be a massive boost to an already bloated defense budget.

In a 23 to 3 vote, the committee’s version of the National Defense Authorization Act authorizes $777.9 billion for US defense programs. While mainly geared toward the Pentagon, this massive price tag would also send money to the Energy Department and elsewhere throughout the Federal government.

In total, it is $25 billion more than President Biden requested for the upcoming fiscal year, and $37 billion more than was enacted for the current fiscal year.

The Armed Services Committee’s proposed recommendation reveals strong bipartisan support for higher defense spending, which, excluding the period of the Afghanistan and Iraq Wars, was already higher (adjusted for inflation) than any time since World War Two.

In addition to providing funding to increase military and DoD civilian pay by 2.7 percent, the Armed Services Committee approved spending on lots of hardware including funding for additional F-35 and F-15EX fighter jets, as well as the construction of a second Arleigh Burke class destroyer, and other combat vehicles.

Included in this spending proposal is New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s provision to create military attorney offices that would be responsible for deciding which felony allegations – including sexual assault — would be prosecuted. Gillibrand has been working to pass this proposal for over ten years.

The most controversial item in this defense spending is the committee’s approval of language that would require women to register for the draft.

The Armed Service Committee also extended through the end of 2022 the existing statues banning the closing of the military prison at Guantanamo Bay, Cuba. They also extended the limitations on transferring Gitmo detainees into the United States.

The committee also authorized continued support for the Afghan military and police, as well as support for the Pentagon’s efforts to transfer Afghan refugees out of the country.

The committee also issued a decree that the Air National Guard will, from here on out, be called the Air and Space National Guard.