Up to $21 billion in supplemental defense spending was tucked inside Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell's stimulus proposal. Over half of that amount is intended to cover coronavirus related costs for defense contractors, but about $8 billion of the total is for weapons programs and military hardware.
Most members of Congress including every Republican and many Democrats (and independents) love defense spending that goes back to their home states and districts, of course, but as it turns out this is not quite that simple.
What appeared to be pork barrel spending is actually a backdoor attempt to replace funding stolen by the White House to pay for Trump's glorified border fence.
The new proposal unveiled on Monday includes millions in funding for Air Force F-35 jets, C-130J transport planes, and P-8 surveillance aircraft.
It also includes $260 million for the Navy's EPF Expeditionary Fast Transport ship which is built in Alabama, the home state of the chairman of the Senate Approbations Committee, Republican Sen. Richard Shelby.
All these military projects had previously been subjected to cuts in February as the Trump administration diverted Pentagon funds to the border wall via a process known as reprogramming.
This may have the side effect of benefiting specific senators whose support may be needed to pass a stimulus bill, but the more direct effect appears to be funding for Trump's fake wall.
I can't agree with anyone supporting this. If Trump wants to steal money to pay for his fake wall, and if the Pentagon wants to go along with it, they should have to pay the price. They don't get to have their cake and eat it, too.
Appropriating additional funding for contractors to comply with coronavirus safety measures and regulations is fair enough, but backdoor spending for Trump's fence has no place in a stimulus bill. This comes while most Republicans are opposing the renewal of the pandemic unemployment program that's keeping people in their homes. They're opposed to funding for basic living expenses, but not the trillion dollar boondoggle F-35 program.
At least Democrats are more consistent; they're likely in favor of more spending for both.