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'We Cannot Keep Handing Over Billions to Military-Industrial Complex,' Says Sanders as Senate Passes Massive Pentagon Budget

"The Pentagon is set to grow by $90 billion and reach $738 billion next year. For $90 billion, we could double nutrition assistance or provide $7,000 to every child in poverty."

An RAF F-35B Lightning stealth jet, a United States Air Force F-15 Strike Eagle, and a French Air Force Rafale fly in formation over the English Channel during Operation Point Blank. (Photo: Joe Giddens/PA Images via Getty Images)

Sen. Bernie Sanders said the United States cannot continue pouring massive sums into the Pentagon at the expense of domestic priorities after the Republican-controlled Senate on Thursday approved a sweeping budget deal that includes $1.48 trillion in military spending over the next two years.

"The Pentagon is set to grow by $90 billion and reach $738 billion next year. For $90 billion, we could double nutrition assistance or provide $7,000 to every child in poverty," tweeted Sanders, a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate. "We cannot keep handing over billions to the military-industrial complex."

The $2.7 trillion budget deal, which was negotiated by House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin, carves out $738 billion for the Pentagon in fiscal year 2020 and $740 billion in 2021.

The agreement passed the Democrat-controlled House last week.

President Donald Trump expressed his enthusiasm for the budget deal in a tweet before it passed the Senate Thursday, assuring Republicans who voiced concerns about the deficit that "there is always plenty of time to cut" domestic spending programs after the 2020 election.

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As the Washington Post reported last month, Trump has instructed his aides to "to prepare for sweeping budget cuts if he wins a second term in the White House."

"Budget deal is phenomenal for our great military, our vets, and jobs, jobs, jobs! Two-year deal gets us past the election," Trump tweeted Thursday. "Go for it Republicans."

The Pentagon, of course, said it has "no complaints" about the budget, which the president is expected to sign on Friday.

But William Hartung, director of the Arms and Security Project at the Center for International Policy, wrote in an op-ed for Inkstick this week that the spending agreement is "a recipe for waste, fraud, and abuse that will likely do more harm than good to the security of America and its allies."

"At $738 billion for fiscal year 2020 and $740 billion for fiscal year 2021," Hartung wrote, "the agreement pushes spending on the Pentagon and work on nuclear warheads at the Department of Energy to historic levels: higher than the peaks of the Korean and Vietnam wars and the Reagan buildup of the 1980s, and nearly twice the Cold War average."

"Throwing more money at the Pentagon without imposing budget discipline will increase waste, not combat capability," said Hartung. "It's time for policymakers and the public alike to realize that when it comes to the Pentagon, more money doesn't necessarily buy more safety or security."

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