March 28, 2022 Natalia Marques
The largest national defense budget in the world just got larger. Earlier this month, the United States Congress passed $728.5 billion in discretionary funding for the Department of Defense for the 2022 fiscal year, a sharp 5% increase from the previous year. The budget contains a plan for $13.6 billion in aid to Ukraine for the Russia–Ukraine war.
On March 16, Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelensky addressed the U.S. Congress, invoking everything from the September 11th attacks to Martin Luther King to plead for more U.S. military intervention. Following the address, President Biden announced an additional $800 million in Ukraine aid to come from the new defense budget.
Ukraine aid has received widespread bipartisan support among U.S. legislators in a Congress that is incapable of uniting around any domestic policy in a similar way. The House of Representatives passed the defense budget with a vote of 361-69, and the Senate passed the bill with a vote of 68-31. This decision comes from a Congress that is split down the middle between Republicans and Democrats, with Republicans in lockstep blocking Biden’s domestic relief and civil rights bills. Infamously, conservative Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema have played the role of the swing vote between the two parties, decidedly shooting down virtually all of Biden’s key progressive legislation.
“They got money for war, but can’t feed the poor”
Out of the $13.6 billion allocated for Ukraine aid, about half will go to replenishing the stocks of military supplies that the U.S. has already sent to Ukraine. The United States has been sending billions in military aid to Ukraine since the 2014 Euromaidan coup, taking the form of weapons, training, and intelligence. Some of those military resources have very possibly been used to attack the people of the Donbass region, even before the Russian military action.
$3.1 billion will cover “deployment, operational, and intelligence costs” for U.S. troops deployed to Europe. The United States now has around 12,000 troops deployed to bolster Ukraine’s borders. The U.S. president is considering the option of permanently maintaining this increase in troops, further militarizing Europe, which is already home to at least 60,000 U.S. troops and hundreds of U.S. military bases….