Economy Forever Wars Jake Johnson Military

House Approves $778 Billion Military Budget

U.S. Capitol building
The U.S. Capitol building in Washington, D.C. ( Kimberly Vardeman / Flickr )

By Jake Johnson / Common Dreams

In bipartisan fashion, the U.S. House of Representatives late Tuesday passed a sprawling military policy bill that contains nearly twice as much funding on an annual basis as Democrats’ flagship social spending and climate bill.

That reality led Stephen Miles, executive director of Win Without War, to slam the $778 billion National Defense Authorization Act as “a reckless misuse of resources, a windfall for war profiteers, and proof positive that most in Congress have little concern for the actual security of people in the United States or around the world.”

“Little could be more revealing of our nation’s broken budget priorities,” Miles added, “than the fact that this rubberstamp of three-quarters of a trillion dollars for warmaking was prioritized and will soon pass with bipartisan support, while the Build Back Better Act—which would invest in meeting real human needs—has been watered down and pushed to the back burner.”

The House passed the NDAA Tuesday night by a vote of 363-70, with the measure ultimately receiving more votes from Republicans than Democrats even though the latter control the chamber and led negotiations over the bill. Of the 70 no votes, 51 were Democrats.

In a tweet explaining his vote against the NDAA, Rep. Jamaal Bowman (D-N.Y.) wrote that “it is astounding how quickly Congress moves weapons but we can’t ensure housing, care, and justice for our veterans, nor invest in robust jobs programs for districts like mine.”

“There was no CBO score needed,” Bowman added, a jab at conservative Democrats who have complained incessantly about the size of the Build Back Better Act without raising similar concerns about the bloated military budget.

“No concern about the deficit,” Bowman continued. “No mention of inflation.”

The House-passed NDAA includes $25 billion more in spending than President Joe Biden requested in his budget blueprint earlier this year. As Rep. Andy Levin (D-Mich.) pointed out, it would cost the federal government roughly $22.5 billion to fund 12 weeks of paid family leave for a year.

According to Defense News, the legislation in its current form contains “12 F/A-18 Super Hornets that were not requested; five more Boeing F-15EX jets than the request for 17 total; and 13 ships total—including two attack submarines and two destroyers―for five more than the request.”

Additionally, as Miles noted, the bill “fails to end U.S. complicity in the war in Yemen, excludes critical measures to rein in out-of-control executive war powers, and doubles down on a dangerous Cold War mindset towards China” with $7.1 billion for the so-called Pacific Deterrence Initiative, which progressives have deemed an “anti-China slush fund.”

Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, said in a statement that “as the national debate centers around how much is ‘too much’ to be spending on the true needs of the American people, it is unconscionable to approve three-quarters of a trillion dollars for war-making.”

“What possible justification is there for throwing $768 billion at the Pentagon at the very same moment that we’re being told there isn’t enough money to provide dental care to seniors, establish a paid family leave, or provide free community college?” Weissman asked. “Why is there more money for the military-industrial complex—providing no additional protection for our national security and arguably diminishing it—at the same time the U.S. is refusing to spend the $25 billion needed to make enough additional vaccines to vaccinate the world?”

The NDAA now heads to the Senate, where it is expected to pass over the objections of progressives such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), who have introduced amendments aimed at bringing the bill’s spending levels back into line with Biden’s request and redirecting 1% of Pentagon spending to global climate programs.

“Cutting the Pentagon’s budget could help fight threats like Covid, climate change, and more,” Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) said following his no vote on the NDAA. “Our work to cut the Pentagon’s budget and reallocate funds to help communities across the country is just beginning. The fight doesn’t end tonight.”


  1. USA: “The greatest purveyor of death and destruction the world has ever seen”. MLK

    Something to really be proud of! The sooner the Amerikan Empire goes the way of Rome the better, this insanity will hopefully doom her to the dust heap of history. One only hopes it comes before its demented insane leadership plunges the world into nuclear darkness!

  2. This is obscene. Please write to the Senators asking them to reject this budget. There is no chance they will listen, perhaps, but we have to try. Please join Just Foreign Policy, Pax Christi, Friends’ Committee on National Legislation and others in saying NO to the military-industrial complex. Please consider joining the group Public Citizen, which is trying to hold legal accountability for so many of the corporate egregious practices.

  3. A way to greatly reduce military spending would be to list all the major categories on which the U.S. spends money on income tax returns, then have the taxpayers list a percentage they want spent for each category. Some people would vote for a lot of military spending because they work in the industry or because they blindly support the military, but most wouldn’t and spending on the military would be greatly reduced.

    And BTW, THAT would be what democracy looks like!

  4. To me, it all sounds complex and concerning overall. I wish they’d spend more money on helping veterans with job opportunities and succeeding more in business after their military service.

  5. Legislative bills can be notoriously so voluminous that legislators can’t possibly read them, or know all they’re voting on as ‘our representatives’ – just another way the proverbial “no taxation (or other theft from the public by the corporate state like the MIC) without representation” is honored in the breach. Still, recalling how the devil is in the details, further budget breakdown beyond passing reference to some jets and ships would be more helpful here in serving public interests than the same old refrains over how the Pentagon is devouring resources better spent on social needs of ‘the people,’ instead of imperial needs of the ruling class.

    That’s in no small part because the MIC is already involved in such ‘social needs’ related to Covid and climate change, which Rep. Pocan dutifully depicts as “threats” (to ‘national security’) we must fight. For instance, those ‘vaccines’ being administered – for our own good – are products of the medical-military industrial complex (MMIC), especially DARPA, researched and developed in secret, and still largely unknown in their contents and effects as Frankenscience experimentation upon the general population proceeds – overshadowing previous experimentation of bioweapons on more selective targets since at least the end of WWII, when the US picked up where the Nazis left off.

    Call it covert ‘humanitarianism’ on the Pentagon’s part, if you like, but the chickens have come home to roost with horrible vengeance in the war now being waged against us and all humanity under cover of Covid (and climate change, as with Build Back Better rolling out infrastructure for a totalitarian (‘smart’) population control grid). Of course, who can say how much of this is spelled out in official budgetary theft, and how much derives from the tens of trillions which have disappeared into the Pentagon’s black hole where no government accounting goes?

    This bottomless pit of treachery set up for ‘our protection’ (aka the Pentagram) should remind us that whatever details we may obtain on the devil’s plans, they remain in the hands of the prince of lies, subject to revision by the demonic institutions which rule over us in our name. And that the only way out of this hell is relentless revolt.

    1. @niko
      “Legislative bills can be notoriously so voluminous that legislators can’t possibly read them, or know all they’re voting on as ‘our representatives …'”

      That’s a result of two things: 1) creating this insane unnatural society that’s so complicated that children are sentenced to 12 years of school just to learn how to live in it (credit to the hilarious movie The Gods Must be Crazy, which showed how insane our unnatural society is); and 2) drafting legislation that would not otherwise pass, but making it so complicated and long that no one knows what’s in it.

      Another illegitimate thing they do in Congress, which is not allowed in our state legislature, is to allow legislation that’s about more than one subject matter. This allows horrible “riders” that could never pass on their own to be attached to “must pass” legislation (I don’t agree that it’s “must pass,” but that’s another issue).

      It’s not like U.S. citizens are saints, but even the people in this right wing capitol & empire of the world would oppose a lot of this stuff if it were out in the open. The ruling class has found many ways to get what it wants, and these types of shenanigans are just one way.

      1. Yes, those riders are definitely part of the shenanigans of the (class) rule of law! Schooling serves to teach children how to live amid such complications, or lies, in this society – without recognition or knowledge of them as such (open secrets, hidden in plain sight, etc.) – hence making for massively repressed cognitive and emotional dissonance, insanity.

  6. The government will be able to afford far more for military spending once the American people decide to fund it with greater revenue generated by efficient real economic growth by moving somewhat toward debt-free transactions which they are free to do and have been free to do since Dec 31 , 1974. It seems that somebody either fell asleep, was too lazy or apathetic or simply got too comfortable with the circulation of IOU’s !

    The irony of the above is that increases for military spending won’t even be warranted on the basis of the USD setting a global precedent for real economic growth and a new stage for peace and prosperity.

    Those who have opposed USD hegemony likely didn’t understand it and were probably focus on the USD currency rather than the all important star of the show, the USD price too that has developed on the “other end” of it —- >>> USD/oz

    Why measure the trade value of oil that simply goes up into smoke (usd/brl) when a market based promotion can have your global pricing tool measuring the trade value of debt-free transactions (usd/oz) (usd/gm) that go round and round and round and round…etc….etc.

  7. The Military is a totally destructive entity. They must go. The nukes must go. We must set the stage for Universal Peace Worldwide and stop the fearmongering about Russia and China, they have their own problems and would be insane to confront us, and we them.
    It is all a game, a fabrication , lies and deceit. We the People must take back everything turn the government upside down and shake it out vigorously. Then create a new system starting at ground zero for all. No debt, No Fed, No IRS, No Military. A peaceful approach to all issues. We must leave the Corporations and banks behind. As they are useless arrogant control freaks driven by greed and corruption.

    1. They’ll go when the market makes the right demands in the right manner with the adoption of debt-free real-time transactions in eCommerce. The mission of the USD price tool will come to fruition in the support of sustainable real economic growth, peace and prosperity. USD hegemony can end.

  8. This is the nation that claims to be a democracy, that decides who else is a “democracy” eg Bolsonaro’s Brazil but of course not the sanction-loaded Venezuela or the 60 years of sanctions Cuba, while illegally sanctioning, invading, occupying, destroying anyone it claims is an “adversary”. The budget for bullying, (“defense!!”) ensures new and old adversaries can be targeted, and often for reasons like “human rights” which must make people in other parts of the world hit by these, smile mirthlessly. Refusing to enter any organization it cannot dominate or ignore and unable to see any other point of view than he one it has decided suit it purposes at any given time, it ensures plenty of “enemies” it can target .

  9. “there is no functioning democracy in america; it is an oligarchy where political bribery determines the nominations and selection of all presidents governors senators congress members”
    Jimmy Carter
    “US election laws only exist in dictatorships like Azerbijian”. Seth Ackerman

    1. It’s a structural challenge given that we operate in a hierarchical socioeconomic model where the apex is a dangerous place, rank with temptation and very much like a light to moths.

      The market process to create a “rounder world” is underway given the power to utilize greater technology and greater power at the individual level.

      We need some “Yang with our Yin” for without that symbiotic completion, the Yin remains a very dark place.

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