Amidst a massive focus on the repeal of Obamacare and healthcare being the primary topic of conversation in the Senate, the Senate took up a $696.5 billion defense bill on Monday. With a vote of 89 to 8, the bill easily passed through the Senate on its way to President Trump’s desk. After passing through the House in July, the legislation kind of stalled out and was lost. It wasn’t until Monday that it resurfaced, and now is the largest single defense authorization in American history.
This massive defense bill has received largely bipartisan support in Congress, and 89% of Democratic senators voted yes on the new budget. For now, the way the legislation is worde, it seems that the money will simply be allotted to a multitude of defense facets, and more specific appropriation will take place later this year. Among the largest issues the bill tackles, it issues a government-wide ban on using software produced by Russia’s Kaspersky Lab. This action is a building block on the order that Homeland Security Secretary Elaine Duke wrote up last week, and now includes government and military contractors as well. Other actions and allotments included in the bill have spawned from the issues with Russia as well, and deal with cybersecurity issues and keep ahead of Russia in the arms and space race.
The Department of Defense is the only governmental agency that cannot pass a financial audit, and therefore questions arise as to why this bill was passed in the midst of the healthcare issue, as well as what the DOD will do with the almost $700 billion coming into their reserves. Regardless, virtually all of the Senate, regardless of party or views, supports the infusion of capital into the Department. Leader of the Armed Forces Committee John McCain weighed in, acknowledging that this bill is only part of the solution but that, “For too long our nation has asked our men and women in uniform to do too much with far too little,” McCain said Monday, warning that financially, “we are gambling with the lives of the best among us, and we’re now seeing the costs.” Senator McCain raises a great point, and one that can be seen in so many locations within our military. Although the number may seem staggering, the infusion into the defense budget is needed. And that’s something that the Senate can agree on, regardless of party preferences.