Republicans, Democrats Agree to Dump $738 Billion More Into the Forever War and Space Force
Plus: Tulsi Gabbard's new Afghanistan bill, SCOTUS rejects abortion case, and more...
A cosmic adventure squad and lots of new military spending got approved by the U.S. House of Representatives yesterday, while lawmakers rejected a host of measures meant to rein in endless war.
The bill, which passed the House 377–48, greenlights some $738 billion for Defense Department activities, military construction, and Department of Energy national security programs in 2020. It also lays out new policies regarding everything from "the establishment of the Space Force within the Air Force" to military personnel benefits, "election matters," sanctions for "foreign traffickers of illicit synthetic opioids," and more.
Voting against the 3,488-page bill were just six Republicans (including Kentucky Rep. Thomas Massie), 41 Democrats (including Hawaii Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, California Rep. Ro Khanna, and the so-called "Squad"), and Michigan Rep. Justin Amash, an independent.
Amash explained on Twitter that he voted no because the bill "allows indefinite detention of Americans without charge/trial, reauthorizes intelligence agencies without reforms to protect Americans' rights, violates the original budget caps, and makes no reforms to rein in unsustainable spending."
On the House floor yesterday, Khanna pointed out that when Obama left office the Pentagon budget was already $618 billion. "This defense budget is $120 billion more than what President Obama left us with," Khanna pointed out.
"The bipartisan provision to stop the war in Yemen? Stripped by the White House," he added. "The bipartisan amendment to stop the war in Iran? Stripped by the White House. The bipartisan provision to repeal the 2002…authorization for the war in Iraq, which is sending our troops overseas? Stripped by the White House."
He went on to slam colleagues who applaud when people say they want to stop our endless wars but then continue to vote to fund them.
Rep. Adam Smith (D–Wash.), chair of the House Armed Services Committee, previously called the measure "the most progressive defense bill we have passed in decades."
My friend @RepRoKhanna is right: it is Orwellian for Congress to hand over billions of dollars worth of weapons and bombs to a president waging a horrific, unconstitutional war in Yemen—and call that progressive. pic.twitter.com/6SUmUUhv3q
— Bernie Sanders (@SenSanders) December 11, 2019
Democrats are applauding the bill because it expands paid parental leave for some federal workers and ups reimbursement fees for military spouses who need new occupational licenses when they move.
President Donald Trump is excited about the bill, which contains authorization for the Space Force that he's been calling for. Read more on the Space Force here and here.
Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA: Pay Raise for our Troops, Rebuilding our Military, Paid Parental Leave, Border Security, and Space Force! Congress – don't delay this anymore! I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) December 11, 2019
Wednesday's Roundup described a New York Times report that Trump was going to declare Judaism a nationality. But a draft of the order out yesterday morning proved the Times got some things wrong. While the draft executive order does deal with Judaism and Title VI of Civil Rights Act, it does not define Judaism as a race or nationality. Rather, it clarifies that "discrimination against Jews may give rise to a Title VI violation when the discrimination is based on an individual's race, color, or national origin"—i.e., that anti-Jewish discrimination is not always rooted in religion. Slate has more details.
- Happy Thursday, folks:
The president has tweeted or retweeted others more than 50 times in the last hour.
— Jessica Huseman (@JessicaHuseman) December 12, 2019
- The Supreme Court will let Kentucky's contested ultrasound-before-abortion law stand.
- Trump is giving up on a plan to kill the federal Office of Personnel Management.
- The U.K. is holding elections today.
- U.S. interest rates will remain unchanged.
- Gabbard calls for an Afghanistan investigation:
The Afghanistan War has been a gravy train for military contractors, corrupt politicians & warlords. My new bill will call for a congressional investigation. It's time for accountability. As president, I commit to immediately bring our troops home, complete within a few months. pic.twitter.com/Uw17qukWqO
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) December 12, 2019