The coronavirus relief proposal released by Republican lawmakers seeks to inject $7 billion into tools presumably essential for fighting the virus… such as the Pentagon’s favorite money sink, the F-35 stealth fighter program.
Democrats have been adamantly opposed to the GOP coronavirus relief package right from the onset, and to the surprise of no one, given the current ultra-partisan climate. But the bill, which was made public on Monday, really brings out the Republican party’s generosity towards defense contractors. Of the $1 trillion financial injection, $29 billion is supposed to go to defense spending, according to a Defense News count.
Some $7 billion is to be spent on weapons programs under the draft law, paying for new or upgraded warships, warplanes, missiles and military satellites. The Navy would get to spend $1 billion on Boeing P-8A Poseidon reconnaissance planes, while the Air Force would enjoy an extra $686 million for additional Lockheed F-35A fighter jets.
While none of this seems in any way related to Covid-19 relief, it wouldn’t be the first time either party has used the stimulus bills to fund its pet projects. A notable example from the first aid package was $25 million for the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts in Washington, DC – which then proceeded to fire its furloughed staff anyway.
Still, Democratic lawmakers had a field day picking the wish-list apart. Senator Bernie Sanders has branded the bill “dead on arrival,” focusing on the lavish military spending in a tweet.
The GOP COVID-19 bill includes$2 billion for F-35s$1.75 billion for an FBI building$1 billion for surveillance planes$375 million for armored vehicles$360 million for missile defense$283 million for Apache helicopters $0 for millions facing evictionIt’s Dead on Arrival
Jesus Garcia, a representative from Illinois, remarked that fighter jets “don’t help families pay their bills” claiming that the hypocrisy of the GOP lawmakers was “unbelievable.”
The @SenateGOP called the #HeroesAct a left wing wish list for providing real relief for struggling families. But they just proposed a bill with $686 million for new fighter jets. Last time I checked #F35s don’t help families pay their bills. Their hypocrisy is unbelievable. https://t.co/bnSFrpx8zn
If the responses are any indication, the bill will have a hard a time passing through the House – in the same way it struggled to get hammered out between the GOP legislators and the White House.
Ironically, despite all the backlash, the bill’s defense spending is unlikely to be the hill for the Democrats to die on.
During the early days of the epidemic, when the Congress was considering a how much money it wanted to spend on the military in fiscal year 2021, a call to boost F-35 purchases received bipartisan support. That attitude has not changed since. An attempt by Sanders to cut the national security budget by $74 billion failed last week at the Senate, after a 23-77 vote against his proposal.
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