Voting for War

John Bolton

This article was last updated on April 16, 2022

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In a recent vote, the United States Senate proved that it can act with a single-minded purpose when it comes to one issue; war.  On a recent vote taken on September 18, 2018, the Senate overwhelmingly voted to approve House Resolution 6157 as you will see in this posting.

As background, H.R. 6157 formally entitled “An Act making appropriations for the Department of Defense for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2019, and for other purposes.” can be summarized as follows:

Provides FY2019 appropriations to the Department of Defense (DOD) for military activities. Excludes military construction, military family housing, civil works projects of the Army Corps of Engineers, and nuclear warheads, which are all considered in other appropriations bills.

Provides appropriations to DOD for:

Military Personnel;

Operation and Maintenance;


Research, Development, Test and Evaluation; and

Revolving and Management Funds.

Provides appropriations for Other Department of Defense Programs, including:

the Defense Health Program,

Chemical Agents and Munitions Destruction,

Drug-Interdiction and Counter-Drug Activities, and

the Office of the Inspector General.

Provides appropriations for Related Agencies, including the Central Intelligence Agency Retirement and Disability System Fund and the Intelligence Community Management Account.

Provides appropriations for Overseas Contingency Operations/ Global War on Terrorism.

Sets forth requirements and restrictions for using funds provided by this and other appropriations Acts.”

Since we will be throwing around a lot of billions in this posting, let’s help put the concept of a billion dollars into perspective that we can better understand.  Here is a graph from FRED showing median household income in the United States:

voting for war

The United States Bureau of the Census reports that median household income for 2017 was $61,372.  In 2017, it would have taken a median American household 16,294 years to earn $1 billion.  According to the Economic Policy Institute, in 2015, to be in the top one percent of earners in the United States, a family would need a minimum income of $421,926.  It would take this family 2370 years to earn $1 billion.

With that in mind, let’s look at some details on how the Senate proposes to spend the $716 billion defense budget (including the use of the emergency Overseas Contingency Operations funds totalling $80 billion):

Army, Navy, Marine Corps and Airforce Personnel – $44.051 billion

Army Operation and Maintenance – $40.634 billion

Navy Operation and Maintenance – $47.296 billion

Marine Corps Operation and Maintenance – $6.372 billion

Air Force Operation and Maintenance – $40.775 billion

Aircraft Procurement – Army – $4.89 billion

Missile Procurement – Army – $3.16 billion

Procurement of Weapons/Tracked Vehicles – Army – $4.515 billion

Procurement of Ammunition – Army – $2.283 billion

Procurement of Aircraft – Navy – $20.083 billion

Procurement of Weapons – Navy – $3.78 billion

Shipbuilding and Conversion – Navy – $23.993 billion as shown on this table:

voting for war

Procurement – Marine Corps – $2.801 billion

Aircraft Procurement – Air Force – $15.772 billion

Missile Procurement – Air Force – $2.615 billion

Space Procurement – Air Force – $2.224 billion

There are also budgeted expenses for research, development, testing and evaluation which includes maintenance, rehabilitation, leasing and operation of facilities and equipment as listed here:

Army – $10.812 billion

Navy – $18.992 billion

Air Force – $40.897 billion

Defense-wide – $24.049 billion

In looking through the line items in the defense appropriations bill, I couldn’t help but think about the tens of billions of dollars that are flowing directly from the wallets of taxpayers into the coffers of the American defense business and from there, into the pockets of each company’s Named Executive Officers.

With these budgeted items in mind, let’s look at how the Senate voted on these expenditures as part of the overall Defense Appropriations Act. Overall, H.R. 6157 was passed with a margin of 92 yeas to 8 nays.

Here are the yeas

voting for war

Here are the nays:

voting for war

You will notice, perhaps rather surprisingly given the current state of political polarization in Washington, that all of the Democratic Senators voted yea along with all but 7 Republicans and 1 Independent.  I find it rather surprising that the Democrats who have demonized Donald Trump at every turn have voted in favour of the this extremely bloated defense budget, putting even more military might into the hands of a President and Commander-in-Chief that they seem to despise and who they are demonizing because of his alleged collusion with Russia. But, then again, as we found out just prior to the endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, both the House and the Senate seem quite willing to swallow the narrative when it comes to both arming the military and fighting the next war. 

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