Saturday, July 9, 2011

US House OKs $649bn military budget

US House of Representatives (file photo)

Source: Press TV

The US House of Representatives has approved a 649-billion-dollar military spending bill, increasing the Pentagon budget while the country is facing austerity measures and huge debt crisis.

The bill, passed with an overwhelming vote of 336-87 on Friday, boosts the Pentagon budget for the 2012 fiscal year beginning on October 1 by some $17 billion compared with the current spending, Reuters reported.

The measure, which was about $8 billion less than what President Barack Obama had sought, would provide $530 billion for the Pentagon's primary budget and $119 to cover the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The approved bill excludes funds for US nuclear programs or military construction which will add another $33 billion to military spending in later bills.

The increase in military spending comes while huge budget reductions are expected in other agencies, affecting food aid for low-income women, health research and energy efficiency.

The White House and negotiators from Congress have to meet an August. 2 deadline to decide on federal spending cuts and increasing the borrowing limit so that the US will not default on debt payments.

Some lawmakers have voiced opposition to the bill. Democrat member Barney Frank laughed at the idea that "everything is on the table" in budget negotiations between the White House and the Congress.

"The military budget is not on the table. The military is at the table, and it is eating everybody else's lunch, "Frank said.

Frank's amendment effort to cut $8.5 billion from the military spending failed on a 244-181 vote on the second day of the three-day debate on Thursday.

"We are at a time of austerity," Frank said. "We are at a time when the important programs, valid programs, are being cut back."

In another effort to clip Obama's wings on Libya mission, the House voted to prevent the Pentagon from spending the 2012 budget on anything that violates the War Powers Resolution.

According to the resolution, the president requires to get congressional approval within 60 days of deploying US soldiers to hostilities.

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