US Senate passes $631 bln army bill

US Senate passes $631 bln army bill

US Senate passes $631 bln army bill

Aircraft mechanics repair a harrier jet on deck the USS Bonhomme Richard at the Philippine-US Amphibious Landing Exercises. AFP photo

The U.S. Senate has overwhelmingly approved a sweeping, $631 billion defense bill, which is way above the overall budgets of most countries in the world, including Turkey that has set goals for a little more than $216 million for next year.

The new U.S. military budget is nearly $65 billion below the real spending in 2011, however, the U.S defense budget is quite changeable due to the world’s largest army’s operations across the world. Figures for 2012 were not revelaed yet.

The country spends 58 percent of the total defense dollars paid out by the world’s top 10 military powers, a report on Huffington Post had said.

Turkey’s estimated gross domestic product fails to double the United States’ planned 2013 military spending,

The Pentagon budget sends a clear signal to President Barack Obama to move quickly to get U.S. combat troops out of Afghanistan, tightens sanctions on Iran and limits the president’s authority in handling terror suspects.

Ignoring a veto threat, the Senate voted on Dec. 4 98-0 for the legislation that authorizes money for weapons, aircraft and ships and provides a 1.7 percent pay raise for military personnel. After a decade of increasing Pentagon budgets, the vote came against the backdrop of significant reductions in projected military spending and the threat of deeper cuts from the looming “fiscal cliff” of automatic spending cuts and tax increases.

The bill reflects America’s war-weariness after more than a decade of fighting in Afghanistan, the messy uncertainty about new threats to U.S. security and Washington belt-tightening in times of trillion-dollar-plus deficits. Spending solely on the base defense budget has nearly doubled in the past 10 years, but the latest blueprint reins in the projected growth in military dollars.

The bill would provide some $526 billion for the base defense budget, $17 billion for defense programs in the Energy Department and about $88 billion for the war in Afghanistan. House of Representatives and Senate negotiators must reconcile their competing versions of the bill in the next few weeks.
Reacting to the relentless violence in Syria, the Senate voted 92-6 to require the Pentagon to report to Congress on the ability of the U.S. military to impose a no-fly zone over Syria.

Syira intervention

Republican Sen. John McCain, who has pushed for greater U.S. military involvement to end the Syrian civil war, sponsored the amendment. Obama on Dec. 3 warned Syrian President Bashar Assad not to use chemical and/or biological weapons against his people as the U.S. and its allies weigh military options.

“If military action has to be taken to prevent sarin gas to be used, Congress has to be involved,” McCain said.

But Republican Sen. Rand Paul, said it was a “bad idea to discuss contingency plans for war.”
The amendment specified that it should not be construed as a declaration of war or an authorization to use force.

Last year, President Barack Obama and congressional Republicans agreed on nearly $500 billion in defense cuts over 10 years.

If the two sides fail in the next month to avert the “fiscal cliff” the Pentagon would face an additional $55 billion in automatic, across-the-board cuts after the first of the year.