Israel, Pentagon ‘big winners’ in US spending bill
The Pentagon, defense industry and Israel came out as big winners in a bipartisan $1.1 trillion omnibus spending bill that would pay for government operations through October, a report says.
The massive measure, unveiled Monday night, fleshes out the details of the budget deal that US Congress passed last month.
The spending bill provides about $497 billion for the Pentagon in 2014 — about the same as in 2013. In addition, it allocates $85.2 billion for the war in Afghanistan as part of the Pentagon’s overseas contingency operations (OCO), $5 billion more than requested.
“The big winner is the Defense Department. They should be breaking out champagne in the Pentagon,” said Gordon Adams, a defense budget expert and former US official, as quoted by the Hill.
Before last month’s budget deal that relieved $22.4 billion in sequestration cuts, the Pentagon budget for 2014 would have been around $475 billion.
Fiscal watchdog and antiwar groups criticized the $5 billion increase from the Pentagon’s request in overseas contingency funding as a “slush fund to pad the department’s budget and avoid spending reductions,” the Hill said.
“There is no excuse for a $5 billion increase to OCO especially in a time of belt tightening throughout the federal government,” David Williams, president of Taxpayers Protection Alliance, said in a statement Tuesday.
The defense industry was also a winner in the omnibus spending bill, Adams said.
The bill largely fulfills the Pentagon’s procurement request for ships, aircraft, tanks, helicopters and other war-fighting equipment, including 29 new F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, eight new warships as requested by the Navy, and a variety of other aircraft like the V-22 Osprey, new and improved F-18 fighters and new Army helicopters.
Israel is also a “winner” in the spending measure, as it fully funds the Arrow, David’s Sling, and the Iron Dome rocket systems, the Hill said.
The spending bill authorizes $173 million in added funding for Israel’s missile systems, including nearly $34 million to improve the Arrow weapon system and $117.2 million for development of the David’s Sling short-range ballistic missile system and $22 million for an upper-tier interceptor.
The US provides $3.1 billion in annual military aid to Israel, making the Zionist regime the largest recipient of US aid in the world.
US President Barack Obama has pledged to extend annual military aid to Tel Aviv through 2027.
The pending 10-year military aid package would commit the United States to give up to $40 billion in military grant assistance to Israel. It would automatically kick in after the current 10-year, $30 billion agreement expires in 2017.