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The 2020 Defense Budget deal has finally been reached between the House of Representatives and Senate, in which the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) of fiscal 2020 will be $738 billion.
The 2020 budget deal is expected to reflect a notable $22 billion increase from last year. This increase includes funding for a 3.1% pay increase for military members and ends the so-called “widow tax” that has been a focus of heated complaints by service-connected members and Gold Star families `for many years.
The bill includes much of the groundwork expected for the new U.S. Space Force, which will operate as the sixth branch of military service. In accordance with the plan, the Air Force would ultimately be the military organization that the U.S. Space Force falls under, with many Air Force members being laterally transferred into the newly organized Space Force to serve. Similarly, the iconic and highly efficient United States Marine Corps is a component of the US Navy.
As for the budget agreement, some of the functions of the proposed new Force include the U.S. Space Force being “organized, trained, and equipped to 1) provide freedom of operation for the United States, in, from, and to space; and 2) be able to deter aggression in, from, and to space; and (3) conduct space operations.” The plan further stipulates that the Chief of Space Operations will report to the Secretary of the Air Force under the auspices of the established U.S. military chain of command.
Among the hurdles in passing this bill in a timely manner was President Donald Trump’s request that the NDAA cover a $3.6 billion funds obligation towards building the Southern border wall. In addition to strongly opposing this request, many House Democrats also objected to having the Space Force being included in the NDAA. As a compromise, proponents of the Space Force have agreed to provide a concession in the form of establishing new 12-week parental leave policy for federal workers.
Democratic Presidential nominee Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) have both criticized the Defense budget for 2020, and both have also openly rejected the bill, characterizing the legislation as —among other things — “astonishing moral cowardice.” Sanders and Khanna’s joint statement states “Congress should have used this National Defense Authorization Act to stop our endless wars. Instead, this bill does nothing to rein in out-of-control military spending.” The statement continues, “Every member of Congress should vote against this measure.” Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) has also voiced her opinion on Twitter in stark opposition to the bill. Warren’s tweet emphatically states “The Pentagon’s budget has been too large for too long. I cannot support a defense bill that’s a $738 billion Christmas present to giant defense contractors & undermines our values and security.”
The Senate & House of Representatives are currently expected to begin voting on the compromised bill some time in the 2nd week of December.