Just days after the House Armed Services Committee unveiled its $696.5 billion military spending bill, their Senate counterpart, led by Sen. John McCain (R – AZ) offered an alternate version that would exceed even that, topping out at around $700 billion.
Both of these versions far surpass the $603 billion proposal of President Trump, which was itself a substantial increase. The House version has a larger amount of money in the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) budget than the alternatives, but the Senate version is larger overall.
The Senate version is said to add 6,000 more Army soldiers and 1,000 Marines than the Pentagon wants,as well as 24 more of the troubled F-35 warplanes than have been requested. Sen. Jack Reed (D – RI), ranking Democrat on the committee, endorsed the idea, but wanted the Budget Control Act repealed to allow such a massive increase without any legal obstacle.
Sequestration capped the increase rate of military spending in theory, but in practice the OCO budget has been used to circumvent that, as there was no limit on this, and laws enabled the money put into that budget to be shifted by the Pentagon wherever they want. Ironically, while no one takes sequestration seriously, the OCO slush fund seems to be continuing apace anyhow.