House Democrats Join GOP to Approve $717 Billion in Military Spending

With the help of 139 Democrats, the House of Representatives on Thursday easily rammed through the 2019 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which — if it passes the Senate — will hand President Donald Trump $717 billion in military spending.

“Of the total $717 billion, the bill would authorize $616.9 billion for the base Pentagon budget, $21.9 billion for nuclear weapons programs under the Energy Department, and another $69 billion in war spending from the special Overseas Contingency Operations account,” Politico reported following the 359-54 vote. View the full roll call here.

Additionally, the NDAA passed by the House would authorize 13 new Navy warships, approve the Pentagon’s request to buy 77 F-35s, and green-light “a new submarine-launched, low-yield nuclear warhead,” Politico notes.

“How are they going to pay for this?” asked one commentator on Twitter. “Oh wait, that question only gets asked when it comes to social programs that benefit the working class.”

The Intercept’s Glenn Greenwald added:

The House’s passage of the 2019 NDAA comes just days after Trump fired off a hysterical Twitter rant against Iran, warning the nation’s leaders in all capital letters to “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN.”

What Trump didn’t mention is that Iran’s so-called “threat” against the United States came after a Reuters report revealed that the White House — led by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton — has launched a secret effort to “foment unrest” inside Iran, which critics described as an obvious push for regime change.

Amid escalating tensions between the two nations sparked by Trump’s ultra-hawkish administration, one of the few tiny bright spots in the NDAA is language that says“nothing in this act may be construed to authorize the use of force against Iran.”

This “explanatory statement” was included thanks to amendments pushed by Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) and passed unanimously by the House.

“I’m grateful to see Congress’ top defense legislators go on the record and agree that President Trump does not have an authorization to use military force against Iran. Given Trump’s recent irresponsible all-caps tweet threatening Iran, it’s critical to know that he has no legal authority to use military force without explicit approval from Congress,” Ellison said in a statement on Thursday.