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Congress passes largest military budget since World War II, without debate

By staff |
December 26, 2010
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On Dec. 22, the U.S. House and Senate passed the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2011. The bill authorizes $725 billion for next year’s Defense Department budget, including nearly $160 billion of what the Pentagon calls “overseas contingency operations” - Congress’s name for the U.S. wars and occupations of Iraq and Afghanistan.

All 100 senators, every Republican and every Democrat, voted for the mammoth military spending bill. The House passed it by voice vote without debate or discussion. The $725 billion amount is likely to grow more through separate supplements for the Afghanistan occupation throughout the year. This is the largest military budget since 1945, the last year of World War II.

According to Todd Harrison, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, “Add in what Homeland Security, Veterans Affairs and the Energy departments spend on defense and total U.S. military spending will reach $861 billion in fiscal 2011, exceeding that of all other nations combined.”

In addition to the Iraq and Afghanistan occupation funding, notable in the bill is $75 million for the armed forces in Yemen for counterinsurgency and $205 million more to fund Israel’s Iron Dome missile shield. The bill also bans the transfer of any prisoners out of the U.S. military prison in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba for trial. During his election campaign in 2008, President Obama promised to close the notorious Guantanamo prison. Once elected, he signed an order to do so, but Guantanamo has still not been closed two years later.