Senate Republicans' $1 Trillion COVID-19 Relief Bill Includes Billions for New Fighter Jets, Attack Helicopters, and Missiles

Much of the military spending in the GOP's HEALS Act replaces funding that was redirected to pay for Trump's border wall.


The $1 trillion coronavirus relief package released by Senate Republicans this week includes billions of dollars for new weapons and defense projects that appear to have little to do with fighting the pandemic.

Part of the Senate Republicans' relief package—collectively known as the Health, Economic Assistance, Liability Protection and Schools (HEALS) Act—is a $306 billion appropriations bill authored by Sen. Richard Shelby (R–Ala.). That legislation includes close to $30 billion in defense spending, with a good chunk of that money allocated to purchasing new aircraft, ships, and missiles.

"I believe we need to act with a sense of urgency. The American people are fighters, but the accumulated strain of this pandemic is a serious burden on folks," said Shelby, who chairs the Senate's Appropriations Committee, in a press release. "With the additional resources this legislation provides, I believe we can give them greater confidence that we are getting our arms around this virus."

Speaking of arms, Shelby's bill includes $283 million for the Army through the end of 2022 "to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, domestically or internationally" on the condition that money be spent on acquiring AH–64 Apache attack helicopters made by Boeing.

The legislation also gives the Army another $375 million for upgrading its complement of Stryker armored personnel carriers, which are made by General Dynamics. The Army reportedly awarded the company a $2.48 billion contract to build new, more mine-resistant Stryker vehicles in June. The text of the HEALS Act says that this funding will come in addition to any money that's already been allocated.

The Air Force, meanwhile, will get $686 million to purchase more F-35As, a fighter plane made by Lockheed Martin. Its development has been plagued by cost overruns and delays. The bill will also put $720 million into funding buying more C-130J military transport aircraft, in addition to $650 million to pay for replacement wings for the Air Force's A-10 aircraft.

The Navy will get its beak wet too, receiving $1 billion to purchase P–8A Poseidon aircraft, plus $1.4 billion for new medical ships, $260 million for a new Expeditionary Fast Transport vessel, $41 million for new Naval Strike Missiles and launchers (made by Raytheon), as a well as close to $50 million for submarine-detecting "sonobuoys."

The Washington Post reports that many of these programs had their funding repurposed to help pay for President Donald Trump's border wall. Republicans' coronavirus legislation replaces that funding, and then some.

The Trump administration only slashed the budget for the Navy's procure P–8A Poseidon aircraft by $180 million, but is now seeing its funding increased by $1 billion, reports the Post.

The Department of Defense is hardly the only recipient of generous line items in the Senate GOP's relief bill. The Trump administration reportedly requested that the legislation include $1.75 billion for a new FBI headquarters building (although the Wall Street Journal reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R–Ky.) has come against that particular item).

Whether all this defense pork will end up being passed by the Senate remains to be seen.

Given that the Senate just last week approved a $740 billion defense spending bill, and the federal government ran an $864 billion budget deficit last month, one could argue now is not the time to spend more money on the military.

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  1. Republicans: Indistinguishable from Democrats since 1967!

    1. I like the way Reason puts those pathetic looking photographs of Trump and his gang members on their articles.

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    2. Not true, wait until you see the Democrats’ upcoming bill, the FEELS act.

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    3. In this case you’re not wrong. The Democrats are objectively worse on spending, but in principle there’s little difference between Republicans spending $1 trillion that we don’t have and Democrats spending $3 trillion that we don’t have.

      This should be the perfect candidate for the classic Reason “both sides!”, and yet…

      1. They are objectively better at reducing deficits and debt, though.

        1. Lolz

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        2. Deficits are driven by over spending. Since republicans continually try to reduce taxes yet democrats continue to add spending, often in prior administrations, or block efforts to reduce spending, the deficits are often larger when republicans are in control. Deficits are not a measure of how much one administration spends compared to another.

          It is laughable to suggest that democrats are more conservative with spending. It’s absolutely absurd.

          One must count non-discretionary welfare spending into the mix and that’s something you leftists continually ignore. You only count the discretionary portion of the budget which includes defense spending and then suggest that budget deficits are republican military spending problems. That’s an amazingly dishonest position to take. Democrats are the driver behind most of the welfare spending and that spending is by far the majority of the annual government spending.

      2. I’m pretty sure $3T is not merely slightly different from $1T.

    4. Democrats wanted to spend 10 times that amount to buy votes.

      Dont worry, when we deport Democrats after they lose civil war 2.0 and eminent domain their property, subtracting their share of the national debt, our national debt will be manageable again.

      1. I still favor an organ harvesting program to simultaneously thin the progressive population and reduce the national debt.

    5. Is there a difference between R pork, which often goes to buy stuff (even if that stuff has questionable societal value) and D pork, which often goes to social hand-outs?

      1. R pork is a social handout to defense contractors.

      2. One keeps defense contractors at their expected profit margins, the other helps poor people from starving to death. So obviously Republicans are morally superior.

        1. That’s a clever way to spin it. I suppose Democrats are morally superior because when the government steals your money, it doesn’t count because it’s the government. If it’s not theft, when does it become theft? 50%? 60? 70? 80?

          I’d wager that many welfare recipients are not in any danger of starving to death and I can’t think of any Republicans who want that to happen. Framing it the way that you do is dishonest. Democrats support such policies to pander for votes. And it works. Because people like you are stupid. There are a lot of things that need to change so the government doesn’t have to spend so much money on entitlement programs, but that won’t happen. Because people like you don’t want to hear it. Because people like you are stupid. And Democrats need their votes. So Democrats need them dependent on the state.

          Your criticism of military spending, however, in my opinion, is legitimate and something worth having a discussion about. But you’re seriously mistaken and extremely misguided if you think democrats are the righteous ones.

          I would say both parties need to be reformed or relegated to the ash bin of history and replaced with people who will uphold the Constitution, secure our unalienable rights, and limit themselves to the powers specifically delegated to them by our Constitution. Probably wishful thinking on my part, but part of the problem is people like yourself who vote for candidates and advocate for policies that subvert our Constitution because you vote based on your feelings, in the short-run, not the preservation of long-term liberty.

          I know you can misrepresent what I’m saying, maybe even come back with some clever comment utilizing linguistic trickery to make yourself sound like you have a point, but you’d still be wrong.

          I suggest learning something about the Constitution before shooting your mouth off.

          1. Give it up for Joe, everyone! King of the strawman!

            You turned a two-sentence post into a completely developed person to argue with. That was just downright impressive…

      3. R pork, which often goes to buy stuff (even if that stuff has questionable societal value) and D pork

        It keeps production lines open and valuable, but perishable, skills honed way down at the blue collar level.

        1. Blue collar perishable skills could be kept just as honed with consumer products. After WWII company like Presto just went from making shells to making cooking pots.

  2. Democrats bill was, what, 3 times that amount? I think I missed the breakdown of what it included.

    1. We don’t have time for disclosures! Just pass the damn thing! Hurry!

      1. You have to spend it to find out whats in it.

    2. An incomprehensible amount of money versus three times an incomprehensible amount of money. Either way it’s incomprehensible and no one should pretend in 2020 that the Republicans are fiscally conservative. At best they are “not quite as fiscally profligate as Team Blue”.

      1. Each just whores to different interests, neither of which represent or include me.

        I just get the fucking bill from both parties.

  3. Billions for New Fighter Jets, Attack Helicopters, and Missiles

    The war on COVID is going hot.

    1. Are these going to the marshal’s office for building defense?

    2. Operation Mask Breath.

    3. Any anti-Covid funding going for more nukes? Can we NOT just nuke the virus from orbit? If not, why not?

      1. Irony by SQRLSY, in that the strategic forces have needed something like RRW for a very long time.

        We ‘think’ the various W-78 and W-87 warheads will work, along with all of the various gravity bombs and ALCM warheads, but they’re all extremely old. ‘Fogbank’ likely wasn’t the only material affected by the brain drain; just the most infamous.

  4. >>The American people are fighters, but the accumulated strain of this pandemic is a serious burden on folks

    so if everyone gets aircraft, ships, and missiles can I order an F-4? i liked the bent wing

    1. Corsair or Phantom II (wingtips were bent slightly)?

      1. I read it as the phantom because the Corsair was technically the F4U as the Navy didn’t adopt the F designation until after Korea.

      2. Phantom. Was my fave.

    2. I wouldn’t mind a fully militarized and functioning F-14D, but I couldn’t afford the upkeep. But think of what you could do during the upcoming bugaloo?

    3. That would do some serious stimulus right there.

    4. Normally I would go practical and order a UH-1. With the current unrest I think I’ll go with an A-10. GAU-8 go brrrrr.

    5. Well heck then sign me up for a destroyer – I will be badass on the lake necxt summer…

  5. Innocent lambs are the reason Libertarians. They never heard of pork legislation until now.

    It’s like fucking a woman who pretends she’s a virgin every time.

    1. you’d be funnier if you were funnier.

    2. We are just struck by the party calling for responsible spending now seems to be spending like drunken sailor looking for the women you mentioned.

      1. We get stuck with a lot of RINOs because the alternative to not supporting them is often a democrat indistinguishable from a Bolshevik.

        I favor ridding ourselves of ALL progressives, regardless of party affiliation.

        1. RINOs, what a pile of fertilizer. The Republicans are all RINOs and the idea that the Rs have any fiscal restraint is ludicrous. Yes, Ds will raise your taxes but at least they pay for things. Republicans are always using the credit cards.

  6. Who was paying for that great beautiful wall again? I forget!

    1. I favor paying by selling the organs harvested Ron progressives until we have enough to cover the whole thing. Or until we run out of progressives. Whichever comes first.

  7. Geez, how many times can Santa bring presents in one year?
    More stimulus checks? The line at the Gucci store in the big mall was at least 50 deep on Sunday. Pre-Covid, usually there’s one patron in there and a bored looking snappily dressed “security rep” at the door.


    1. My next refund check is going straight to the stock market, just like the previous one.

      1. How are you getting stimulus checks? Aren’t you successful enough to earn more than the eligibility limit?

        1. The truly successful no longer need an income.

  8. I would love an amendment that limited all federal bills, laws, requisitions etc to only the stated purpose and which provided arguments as to how the subject matter was a federal responsibility under the Constitution (and could only be defended in courts under that justification and the courts could only decide based upon the justification). Also, all federal laws will automatically sunset of a set time, maybe 5-10 years. After this renewal must be voted upon. I also support term limits, expanding the size of the HoR to reflect population growth, and a balanced budget amendment that limited congress’s ability to just raise taxes rather than cut spending to balance the budget. Oh and a unicorn, maybe in her late 20s, redhead, that is into both me and my wife.

    1. And, with all that, you will still be counted as a COVID death when your wife does you in.

      (either because you brought the unicorn home, or because she likes the unicorn better)

  9. It’s a jobs program, like most defense procurement spending.

    OTOH, if you want a far-flung military, one that helps with the inducement for keeping the USD the de facto universal currency, then you’re going to need to give them the equipment to operate with. The P-3 fleet was ridden hard and put away wet. It’s cheaper to get new a/c, than to keep the old ones running. And they go through a lot of sonobuoys when practicing keeping track of tough to discern targets, like modern AIP SSKs in the littoral. F-35 is the key to a lot of what the US military wants to do in a 5th generation and beyond aerial fight. And so on.

    20 years of fighting mostly illiterate tribesmen has put a lot of wear and tear on the toys. On the troops, too.

  10. Nothing stimulates demand like blowing shit up.

  11. So this is how the Senate Republicans wish to use their final few months of political relevance?

    1. What would you suggest?

    2. Trumps reelection and a super majority for senate republicans will be the nice change.

      That and senate republicans replacing RBG.


      1. While one should never underestimate Republicans’ willingness to cheat to win, I’d suggest stocking up on whiskey for November, just in case.

        1. Makers Mark.

          And someone needs a new keyboard above.

          Logitech makes some good ones. Mice as well. I prefer wired. They do not get stuck on the same two letters. I like the backlit one.

  12. The Nazi Republicans actively want you to suffer and die.

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  13. Unreason is such a joke now.

    They act as if Senate republicans can do pass any budget without the House that controls the government purse.

    1. Every bad thing Republicans do is Democrats fault.

      Why do you so completely support a party that is apparently totally incapable of independent thought or self-control?

      1. That describes both parties. There must be an extra hot place in hell for all these assholes.

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  15. Newsom is doing a similar thing increasing road work other government projects etc and calling it a stimulus package but he is really just enlarging government jobs and their unions. Private industry can go to hell except for his winnery.

  16. This is compromise folks.

    The Dems will be quiet about the defense goodies the GOP has thrown in, as they throw in all their social program spending…and everyone gets what they want. Except the taxpayer…they get a turd sandwich.

  17. Mitch gets way too much credit for political maneuvering skills. His only move for many years has been simply to obstruct anything that’s not a Republican tax cut or giveaway to their favored interests. It was hardly 6-degree chess to say no to everything.

    Now that real shit has gone down and they have to pass stimulus or America craters into oblivion, Mitch has been got. And by a political has-been like Nancy Pelosi. He knows Republicans and Trump get the blame for any further catastrophe, except now it’s not about winning so much as not totally bleeding out.

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