The Biden administration and congressional leaders from the Democratic and Republican parties reached an agreement Wednesday morning on passage of a comprehensive budget bill funding federal spending for the remainder of the current fiscal year, which will extends until September 30.
The House of Representatives passed the bill Wednesday night, split into two sections. The military spending portion, providing a record $782 billion to build America’s military machine, passed by an overwhelming bipartisan vote. The social spending portion, smaller at $730 billion, passed by a vote close to the party line, 260 to 171, backed by all but one Democrat and only 39 Republicans.
The bill is colossal, both in terms of allocated funds, some $1.5 trillion, and in physical size, over 2,700 pages. Dozens of superfluous provisions were inserted into the “must-have” legislation, while other measures were removed to appease Senate Republicans, whose support was needed to overcome any filibuster.
Record military spending is supplemented by an additional $14 billion, dubbed “aid to Ukraine,” although the bulk of that spending is to support US military operations in Eastern Europe, including the deployment of thousands of additional soldiers, tanks and warplanes.
The total is nearly $800 billion, more than any US administration has ever spent on military operations in a single year. The Biden administration initially requested $715 billion for the Pentagon; Congress increased that figure by $25 billion in the National Defense Authorization Act passed late last year. The appropriations bill adds another $42 billion, plus money from Ukraine.
To this must be added the major part of the appropriations of the Department of Energy, which manages the production of American nuclear warheads before they are loaded into bombs and missiles, and a large part of the expenditure of the Department of Homeland Security, which hit a record $106 billion. , an increase of 11 percent, and spending by intelligence agencies.
Total spending by all federal government departments on the military intelligence apparatus is certainly over $1 trillion, more than the next eight countries in the world combined. By comparison, Russia’s military budget is estimated at $62 billion, about one-sixteenth of the US total.
Other provisions include support for ‘counterterrorism’ efforts in Africa, an additional $1 billion for Israel’s Iron Dome rocket defense system and money for the State Department to promote pro-Israel and anti-Palestinian measures such as the Abraham Accords, reached under Trump. administration, between the arch-reactionary oil emirates and the Zionist state.
In an effort to garner support from Senate Republicans for the “omnibus” bill before the next midnight Friday federal shutdown deadline, the White House, Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi agreed to virtually every request from Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell and the senator. Richard Shelby of Alabama, the senior Republican on the appropriations committee.
McConnell released a statement stating, “This deal provides significantly more money than the Biden administration has requested for defense and significantly less money than the administration has requested for nondefense. At my insistence, it also provides much more money for Ukraine than the Democrats had offered, especially for the authorities and the funds needed to quickly deliver crucial military equipment to Ukraine.
“The Omnibus rejects liberal politics and responds effectively to Republican priorities,” Shelby gloated. “The House and Senate should act quickly and send it to the president.” Among the Democratic concessions, he cited abandoning an effort to overturn the Hyde Amendment, which bars the use of Medicaid or other federal funds to pay for abortions.
The Liberal Democrats have sought to use the Ukraine crisis as justification for their support for record military spending. “I support military aid to Ukraine,” said Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (Democrat, New York). “I think that’s the thing. We never support the defense budget. Oregon Rep. Earl Blumenauer said, “It’s situational. And there is a lot to do there. We must support Ukraine.
The White House also cited aid to Ukraine, as well as a $46 billion increase in national social spending, as reasons for supporting the bipartisan deal. But total spending deviates from Democratic Party claims of “parity” between military and non-military spending, providing $782 billion for the military and $730 billion for all other federal government discretionary spending.
Speaking on behalf of the White House, Budget Director Shalanda Young said in a statement, “The bipartisan funding bill is proof that both sides can come together to serve the American people and advance the key national priorities. … This will mean historic levels of assistance for the people of Ukraine, a bold new initiative to advance unprecedented cures for cancer and other diseases, and more support to keep our communities safe.
The latter referred to additional funding for state and local police departments, primarily through the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Department of Justice.
The division of the omnibus spending bill into two parts is for political positioning purposes. All Democrats and a handful of Republicans approved of national social spending, while most Republicans and all but seven Democrats approved of military spending. Each measure contains a provision to combine the two into a single bill when introduced in the Senate later in the week.
In a major exposition of reactionary maneuvers to get the bill passed, Speaker Pelosi removed a $15.6 billion provision for additional COVID-19-related spending from the omnibus bill, delaying the vote scheduled for the afternoon until late at night. She did so after many “progressive” Democrats objected to the method used to fund the COVID-19 supplement, which was to loot funds already previously earmarked under last year’s American Relief Act. but not yet sent to state and local governments for distribution.
In other words, the COVID-19 “expenses” were not fresh money at all, unlike the Ukrainian military supplement, which is on top of the money allocated to the Pentagon. There was widespread opposition from Democratic representatives spread across about 30 states that would lose money. In a letter to the Democratic caucus, Pelosi admitted that states would lose about 9% of the federal funds they expected to receive. This admission only generated more opposition, so Pelosi simply pulled the bill out of the ground so it could be hastily revised and resubmitted.
The episode demonstrates both the cynical and reactionary nature of the Democratic leadership of Congress, and the timidity of the “opposition” of the progressives, if it still deserves this name. All factions of the Democratic Party will be united in passing the comprehensive legislation, in the House and Senate, delivering the greatest windfall in history to the American war machine.