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Peters and Stabenow vote with majority of Senate to approve $716 Billion Military Budget

June 21, 2018

On Monday, the US Senate voted in favor of adopting the National Defense Authorization Act,  by a margin of 85 – 10

The vote adopts $716 billion defense bill that boosts military spending by over $80 billion and authorizes another $21.6 billion for nuclear weapons programs.

If adopted by the House, the 2019 Budget for US militarism would be an increase of roughly $82 billion from last years defense budget.

Both Michigan Senators voted in favor of the National Defense Authorization Act. As member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, Sen. Gary Peters released a statement on why he voted for the military budget, stating: 

“At a time when our nation faces new and wide-ranging security threats, it is critical that our brave men and women in uniform have the support, tools and technologies necessary to complete their mission safely and effectively, Michigan is conducting groundbreaking research that will revolutionize the future of warfare. This legislation will bolster initiatives already underway in our state – from developing the Next Generation Ground Vehicle to assessing military vehicle capabilities under extreme winter weather – while reaffirming the importance of the A-10 and the critical role it continues to play in our national security.”

Fellow Michigan Senator Debbie Stabenow, in a similar statement on the military budget vote, chose to focus on how the military budget will “a big investment in Michigan’s defense industry.” 

Both Michigan Senators also added changes which would benefit military contractors in the state and military research being done at universities, mentioning the Michigan Technological University in Houghton.

As with the adoption of any new military budget, the near unanimous vote to approve $716 billion for the military raises important questions about the priorities for a country that has millions living in poverty, wages that millions cannot live off of and a massive affordable housing crisis.

In Dr. Martin Luther King Jr’s famous speech in 1967, entitled, Beyond Vietnam, he calls out the nation and states that, A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death. However, hearing his critique on spending priorities is much more powerful.

Dr. King made these connections clear, which led him to be involved in the Poor People’s Campaign, calling for a revolution of values where the social uplift of people is more important than militarism.

The same principle is part of the current Poor People’s Campaign, which challenges several main themes of injustice and oppression. The Poor People’s Campaign identifies the following overarching themes to be addressed and dismantled: 

  • Systemic Racism
  • Poverty & Inequality
  • Ecological Devastation
  • War Economy and Militarism

Unfortunately, the US government continues to make militarism a priority over the lives of millions of people living in this country. Therefore, it is necessary for those of us who advocate for radical change to be clear that the US military budget is incompatible with economic, racial and environmental justice.

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