Spending bill increases funding for troops, military families and weapons

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A man walks past the United States Capitol, Wednesday, Oct. 27, 2021, on Capitol Hill in Washington. A $1.5 trillion federal spending bill approved by the Senate on Thursday, March 10, 2022 and en route to President Joe Biden’s office will pour $728 billion into the military, fund pay raises for troops, military family assistance, arms purchases and other defense expenditures for the fiscal year. (Patrick Semansky/AP)

WASHINGTON — The $1.5 trillion federal spending bill en route to President Joe Biden’s office will pump $728 billion into the military, funding pay raises for troops, aid for military families , arms purchases and other defense expenditures for the fiscal year.

The budget bill increases defense spending by $32 billion from a year ago, and it was passed by Congress this week alongside a $13.6 billion emergency aid package. dollars for war-torn Ukraine. The emergency aid package includes an additional $6.5 billion for the Pentagon.

“Rarely does Congress act so decisively on such an important issue,” said Sen. Jim Inhofe of Oklahoma, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee. “[This bill] will prevent us from falling even further behind China, and we will make significant progress in some areas because of it.

The bipartisan measure funds the 2.7% pay rise the 2.1 million military personnel received from the start of the year through the rest of fiscal year 2022, which ends Sept. 30. These pay raises gave junior enlisted troops about $790 more per year and more. senior officers an additional $2,600. An additional $167 million will fund a $15 minimum hourly wage for all Department of Defense employees, according to the House Committee on Appropriations.

Lawmakers also earmarked $278 million in housing assistance for military families struggling with the lingering effects of the coronavirus pandemic on home expenses. The bill adds $516 million for building and improving schools on military bases and gives military families $24.2 million for child care costs.

The new funding plan also tackles gender-based violence in the military, allocating $540 million to sexual assault prevention and response programs, victim advocates and other initiatives. Cancer research by the Department of Defense will receive $578 million in funding, including $150 million for a breast cancer research program, according to the House Committee on Appropriations.

Veterans will see increased investment in mental health care initiatives, women’s health care and caregiver support programs, and efforts to address homelessness.

“This bill reflects our values,” said Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, D-Fla., chair of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Military and Veterans Affairs. “It will strengthen our national security infrastructure, invest in new child development centers and family housing on military bases, and ensure veterans receive the health care they deserve.”

The Pentagon is set to receive $686 million to respond to the fuel leak at the Navy’s Red Hill storage facility in Hawaii last November that contaminated drinking water. Another $1.6 billion is allocated to the maintenance and modernization of military installations.

Significant funds would also be distributed for the purchase of weapons, including $25.9 billion for 13 new Navy ships and $8.5 billion for 85 F-35 fighter jets. The Pentagon will invest some $1.4 billion in the Indo-Pacific to counter China’s influence in the region, establishing defense monitoring stations in Hawaii and Guam and funding tracking systems. missiles.

The defense budget also allocates funds to US military allies, giving $300 million to the Baltics and other Eastern European countries to bolster defenses against Russian aggression. Lawmakers agreed to give Ukraine an additional $300 million on top of the $13.6 billion emergency package, which was earmarked for humanitarian aid, to the 15,000 U.S. troops recently deployed to the region and the resupply of weapons sent to Ukraine.

The United States will also spend $1 billion to resupply Israel’s Iron Dome missile defense system, as well as $500 million to support Iraqi security forces and $165 million for security programs with African nations. .

“In the face of Putin’s war on Ukraine, making sure we give our military the tools to respond to current and emerging threats around the world couldn’t be more imperative,” said Rep. Chrissy Houlahan, D- Pa., a former Air Force officer. .

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