With more than 150,000 Americans dead from coronavirus and millions more out of work, Republicans quietly added $8 billion in military equipment spending to the latest pandemic relief package.
Instead of putting that funding toward the nation’s failing coronavirus testing system or to help out-of-work-Americans, the money essentially amounts to a windfall for defense contractors that make military equipment.
“The Republican measure includes billions for F-35 fighters, Apache helicopters and infantry carriers sought by Washington’s powerful defense lobby,” the Associated Press reported Tuesday. “Overall, the proposal stuffs $8 billion into Pentagon weapons systems built by defense contractors like Boeing, Lockheed Martin and General Dynamics — corporate titans that sit atop the Washington influence industry.”
More from the AP:
The bill, drafted by Senate Appropriations Committee Chair Richard Shelby, R-Ala., would deposit $2.2 billion in Pentagon shipbuilding accounts, boost missile defense systems in California and Alaska and deliver about $1.4 billion for C-130 transport planes and F-35 fighters manufactured by Lockheed Martin Corp. Some of the F-35s could be delivered to an Air National Guard unit in Montgomery, Alabama.
In several cases, Shelby proposes restoring cuts imposed by the administration that diverted almost $4 billion to help pay for construction of President Donald Trump’s border wall. The Pentagon won significant defense increases last year with passage of a budget agreement that erased automatic spending cuts known as sequestration.
The $8 billion weapons procurement package is part of a $29.4 billion defense portion of the GOP’s $1 trillion coronavirus response measure, a White House-backed package released Monday. Providing that money now would help build headroom into the annual defense funding bill that Congress plans to write later this year.
The measure is dead on arrival
The good news, of course, is that it appears there is enough bipartisan opposition to this particular measure that it’s likely dead on arrival.
As the AP pointed out in its report, “Democrats slammed the add-ons, and Senate Republican leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said Tuesday that the final package should not stray from the coronavirus response.”
On Twitter, House Rep. Jerry Nadler blasted McConnell, telling him to get his priorities straight.
“This is especially shameless, even by Senate GOP standards,” Nadler said. “Unless Apache attack helicopters can improve our testing capacity or help struggling families, defense spending has no place in a COVID19 relief package.”
This is especially shameless, even by @SenateGOP standards. Unless Apache attack helicopters can improve our testing capacity or help struggling families, defense spending has no place in a COVID19 relief package.@senatemajldr: get your priorities right.https://t.co/nEJ0zoLs0J
— Rep. Nadler (@RepJerryNadler) July 29, 2020
As Republicans again demonstrate how incapable they are of governing a country during a crisis, the HEROES Act has already been passed by the Democratic-led House of Representatives.
If the GOP truly cares about helping the American people, they would pass it immediately.
Sean Colarossi currently resides in Cleveland, Ohio. He earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in Journalism from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and was an organizing fellow for both of President Obama’s presidential campaigns. He also worked with Planned Parenthood as an Affordable Care Act Outreach Organizer in 2014, helping northeast Ohio residents obtain health insurance coverage.