On Tuesday (17.12), the US Congress passed three laws that make it clear that both parties of the American political establishment support war, austerity and attacks on democratic rights.
First, the Senate voted by an overwhelming majority of 86 to 8 in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which approved a record military budget of $738 billion. The law now only requires the signature of President Trump.
Later that same day, the House of Representatives, which is controlled by Democrats, voted for two bills to distribute nearly $ 1.4 trillion in total funding to the military and other U.S. government agencies through September 2020.
At the same time, House Democrats have removed a passage that would reduce the amount the military can move from one account to another from $ 9.5 billion to $ 1.5 billion. As Democrats know, Trump will use the “national state of emergency” at the border he declared last February to illegally allocate funds from the Pentagon budget that Congress has earmarked for other things to finance the border wall. So he will get enough money through these maneuvers in the result to build the wall.
Before the vote in the Senate last week, the House of Representatives had already approved the NDAA by an overwhelming majority of 377 to 48 votes. This law will provide the Pentagon with an additional 22 billion dollars to fight wars around the world. That is 15 billion dollars more than Trump had demanded for military purchases. The government has already indicated that it will approve the law.
71 billion dollars are earmarked for operations overseas. Also implemented is Trump’s demand for a pay increase for military personnel by 3.1 percent, with which he wants to cultivate the circle of his far-right supporters in the military. In addition, with the US Space Force (USSF), a completely new military force will be established, which will push the militarization of space.
While large majorities in both parties voted for the NDAA, four Democratic presidential candidates stayed away from the vote, which will enable them in future to present themselves as opponents of war – without risking an Affront to the military leadership. The four are Elizabeth Warren, Bernie Sanders, Amy Klobuchar and Cory Booker.
The domestic spending bill was passed in the House of Representatives by 295 votes to 120. The vote was largely along party lines. 112 Republicans and only seven Democrats voted against. The law, which established the financing of social benefits for tens of millions of Americans, includes significantly less money than the huge military budget.
Democrats celebrated this law as “progressive” because it allows paid maternity leave for federal employees. However, it does not change at all the massive cuts to Medicaid and food stamps that were enacted under Trump. Not to mention the cuts to these and other social programs that were already made during the 2008 financial crisis under Obama. The funding package includes cuts in government subsidies for Medicaid in Puerto Rico by nearly five billion dollars, or nearly half.
In the House of Representatives, the NDAA bill was passed by a majority of 280 votes to 138, with 150 Democrats and 130 Republicans voting in favor. The split of the two bills made it possible for parts of the Democrats to present themselves as opponents of war. The four deputies Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley and Rashida Tlaib, known as “the Squad”, all voted against the military authorization bill. The Democratic presidential candidate Tulsi Gabbard, who at times staged herself as an opponent of war, abstained from both votes.
Both approval bills were waved through the Senate yesterday, so that now only Trump’s signature is missing. This prevented a new government Shutdown, which would otherwise have started at midnight on Friday.
Escalation of the war course
The Expansion of the military by the new NDAA provides for an escalation of the war course of the US imperialism. In doing so, he pursues the goal of maintaining his hegemony over the entire planet, including in Cyberspace and space.
In comparison to previous versions, there are no restrictions on military operations abroad, including a ban on American support for Saudi Arabia’s war in Yemen and the requirement that Trump must seek congressional approval before attacking Iran. In addition, the authorization for the use of Military Force (AUMF) of 2002 will be extended. This is the flimsy legal justification for the Iraq War and all subsequent interventions of US imperialism in the Middle East.
The new legislative framework for the military reaffirms the strategic shift from the" war on Terror “to the” great power conflicts " that the Trump administration set out in its national defense strategy in 2018 and which poses the acute threat of a nuclear conflict between the US and Russia and China. The NDAA allows the use of low-explosive submarine-based nuclear warheads, provides an additional $ 300 million in military aid to the far-right Ukrainian government, and includes a series of provocative measures against Moscow and Beijing.
One of them is the ban on direct cooperation between the Russian and US military. Other measures include an increase in funding for the European Defense Initiative by $ 734.3 million, a declaration of support for Hong Kong’s autonomy vis-à-vis China, and the introduction of sanctions against the Nord Stream 2 and TurkStream (Turkish Stream) Pipelines from Russia to Germany and Eastern Europe.