Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

U.S. Air Force Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning stealth fighter flies over the San Francisco Bay on October 13, 2019. (Photo: Yichuan Cao/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

"F-35s Don't Help Families Pay Their Bills": GOP Under Fire for Slipping $30 Billion Pentagon Gift Into Coronavirus Plan

"Just how twisted is the Senate GOP coronavirus bill you ask? It includes $686 million for new F-35 fighter jets."

Jake Johnson

In a floor speech late Monday, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell described the GOP's newly released coronavirus stimulus package as a "carefully tailored" plan to provide financial relief to desperate Americans.

But a look at the legislative text (pdf) released by Senate Republicans shows the HEALS Act is replete with massive gifts to the Pentagon and defense contractors that would do nothing to aid the unemployed, provide nutrition assistance to hungry children, prevent an avalanche of evictions, or stop the spread of coronavirus.

"Last time I checked F-35s don't help families pay their bills," Rep. Chuy García (D-Ill.) tweeted in response to the GOP's proposal of $686 million in spending on new fighter jets.

The legislation also includes hundreds of millions of dollars in funding for surveillance planes, Apache helicopters, and armored vehicles.

The HEALS Act proposes a total of $29.4 billion in new military spending just a week after the House and Senate approved a $740.5 billion Pentagon budget for fiscal year 2021.

Meanwhile, as Common Dreams reported earlier Tuesday, the Republican package includes no money for state and local governments, election assistance, or the U.S. Postal Service. The legislation would also slash the weekly federal unemployment insurance boost from $600 to $200.

Roll Call's John Donnelly reported Monday that "Senate Republicans have laced their roughly $1 trillion coronavirus relief package with at least $7 billion for weapons, most of which are built by leading contractors that contribute heavily to congressional campaigns."

According to Donnelly:

The draft appropriations portion, made public Monday evening, includes money for fighter jets, helicopters, radars, ships, and armored vehicles that the measure's authors have deemed "emergency" spending that is not capped by the budget control law...

The top two defense contractors, Lockheed Martin Corp. and Boeing Co., would do especially well under the measure.

The list of weapons is topped by fully $1 billion for an unstated number of Boeing P-8 Poseidon maritime surveillance jets. Also on the list is $283 million for Boeing Apache helicopters for the Army.

Boeing's Ground-Based Midcourse Defense anti-missile system, which is aimed at intercepting incoming ballistic missiles from sites in Alaska and California, would receive $200 million, and $243 million more would go to a missile defense radar program.

"People are dying, or worried about keeping a roof over their families' heads, or cutting hours because their kids' schools are closed," said Anthony Weir, a lobbyist on nuclear disarmament and Pentagon spending at the Friends Committee on National Legislation. "And this is the time to jam some military procurement into this year that you didn't get last year?"


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

'Political Malpractice': House Democrats' Bill Wouldn't Add Dental to Medicare Until 2028

"I don't want to see it drawn out to as far as the House has proposed," Sen. Bernie Sanders said during a recent press call.

Jake Johnson ·


'How Many More Deaths Must It Take?' Barbados Leader Rips Rich Nations in Fierce UN Speech

"How many more variants of Covid-19 must arrive, how many more, before a worldwide plan for vaccinations will be implemented?"

Jake Johnson ·


To Avert Debt Ceiling Calamity, Democrats Urged to Finally Kill the Filibuster

"The solution is to blow up the filibuster at least for debt limit votes, just as Mitch blew it up to pack the Supreme Court for his big donors."

Jake Johnson ·


Biden Decries 'Outrageous' Treatment of Haitians at Border—But Keeps Deporting Them

"I'm glad to see President Biden speak out about the mistreatment of Haitian asylum-seekers. But his administration's use of Title 42 to deny them the right to make an asylum claim is a much bigger issue."

Jessica Corbett ·


Global Peace Activists Warn of Dangers of US-Led Anti-China Pacts

"No to military alliances and preparation for catastrophic wars," anti-war campaigners from over a dozen nations write in a letter decrying the new AUKUS agreement. "Yes to peace, disarmament, justice, and the climate."

Brett Wilkins ·

Support our work.

We are independent, non-profit, advertising-free and 100% reader supported.

Subscribe to our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values.
Direct to your inbox.

Subscribe to our Newsletter.


Common Dreams, Inc. Founded 1997. Registered 501(c3) Non-Profit | Privacy Policy
Common Dreams Logo