US House of Representatives passes sweeping $696bn military bill for 2018


Six F16 of the Air Force fly over Paris during the annual Bastille Day parade on the Champs-Elysees avenue in Paris on July 14, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The US House of Representatives has passed a massive military bill for the year 2018 that far exceeds President ’s previous budget request.
In a 344-81 vote on Friday, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) approved the bill, allowing the allocation of a military budget of $696bn for the fiscal year 2018.
The bill blows past Trump’s requested $603bn budget the White House had previously touted as a “historic increase in defense spending.”
The bill also exceeds a strict military spending cap of $549bn imposed under the 2011 Budget Control Act by about $72bn.
This is a major challenge as the Senate should first increase the spending limit or repeal the spending restrictions, a move not supported by Democratic senators.
“If you don’t raise the budget caps, this leaves us once again in the land of absurdity,” said Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash) who is the top ranking Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee.
“It is very possible that $72 billion of what is in this bill is going to disappear between now and the end of this year, unless we address the broader issue of sequestration and budget caps,” he added.
The House NDAA also increases spending on missile program by 25 percent besides adding thousands more active-duty troops to the Army.
In addition, it provides five new ships for the Navy and increases US troops’ salary by 2.4 percent, the largest pay raise in eight years.
The US already has the highest military spending in the world. The new budget increase serves to further expand the US military as Trump has promised.
Trump has pledged a “massive” increase in the pentagon’s budget spending to implement “the greatest military build-up in American history.”

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