The Senate's $700 Billion Military Increase Leaves Health & Education Funding Dry
Money moves in Trump's administration continue to pose new worries, this time with the announcement of the Senate's passing of a $700 billion bill for increased military spending.
Reuters reports late Monday (Sept. 18) that the GOP voted 89-8 for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDDA), expected to become law by the end of the fiscal year. The funds will be divided between the Pentagon's shopping list of weapons and pay increases for troops ($640 billion), with $60 billion to cover already hazardous conflicts in places like Syria and Iraq.
The bill was far more than what Trump demanded, The Intercept reports; he asked for a $54 billion increase and was given $80 billon instead. The NDAA, which has been passed consistently for more than two decades, was met with opposition from Sen. Bernie Sanders and fellow Dems Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Patrick Leahy (D-VT) and Jeff Merkley and Ron Wyden (D-OR). There were also a few Republicans who were against the "overwhelming" increase, like Bob Corker (R-TN), Rand Paul (R-KY) and Mike Lee of Utah.
The bill equates to the amount spent during the Afghanistan and Iraq wars. Senate Democrats have promised all year to combat any big increases as far as the military is concerned, since it would leave education and health funding virtually empty.
Leaders in education and health, however, have other concerns. The New York Times reports Senators Lindsey Graham (R-SC) and Bill Cassidy (R-LA) have put together a new plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) just months after it was rejected. Other leaders have gravitated toward the bill that would once again leave millions without coverage. The state would hold more power, allowing higher premiums for those with pre-existing conditions.
Activists took to social media to voice concerns about the looming bill with the hashtag #ACASavesLives.
A vote can come as early as next week, and the odds are still against the GOP due to the previous 49-51 vote.
The Graham-Cassidy proposal can also hurt education, Forbes adds. “As total Medicaid spending represents approximately one-third of state budgets, the fundamental changes proposed could challenge that flexibility,” Fitch Ratings analyst Eric Kim said last week. “Negative implications for entities that rely on state support, including school districts, cities, counties and public higher education institutions, could be more significant given their generally more constrained budgetary flexibility.”
Call it a ripple effect everyone saw coming. With Trump steadfast on promises like repealing Obamacare and a border wall, the outcomes have our heads spinning.