US House of Representatives approves $610b massive military budget, war fund

May 19, 2016 6:19 pm

Soldiers follow a simulated exercise repair of a track of a tank at the training area in Grafenwoehr, near Eschenbach, southern Germany, on May 11, 2016. (AFP photo)

The US House of Representatives, one of the two chambers in Congress, has passed a $610 billion budget to fund Pentagon programs and US-led conflicts.
The bill, which was approved in a 277-147 bipartisan vote on Wednesday, sets the Pentagon’s base budget at $551 billion while giving it another $59 billion for war funding under the name of overseas contingency operations.
On Monday, the White House threatened to veto the bill over the Republican attempts to shift $18 billion from the war fund to cover expenses in the base military budget.
Republicans 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.
The legislation prohibits the US Army from falling below 480,000 active-duty soldiers and proposes a 2.1 percent pay raise for troops, a half-percentage point  more than 1.6 percent raise proposed by the government.
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 said that the next administration would submit a war supplemental budget to Congress upon taking office in 2017 to make up for the difference.
Restricting transfers of Guantanamo Bay detainees to the US mainland, preventing the administration from conducting a new round of military base closures, and banning the retirement of the Warthog attack jets are among the policy provisions included in the bill.
Before the bill was approved, the House soundly rejected a Democratic 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.
“I am extremely disappointed that my colleagues left a blank check for endless war on the books,” said Representative Barbara Lee, who authored the amendment.
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