Sanders blasts GOP push to increase military spending

Sanders blasts GOP push to increase military spending
© Greg Nash

Sen. Bernie SandersBernard (Bernie) SandersSchumer: Franken should resign Franken resignation could upend Minnesota races Avalanche of Democratic senators say Franken should resign MORE (I-Vt.) blasted Republican efforts to boost military spending Thursday, linking defense spending to proposed cuts in health care.

"Foreign policy is about U.S. government budget priorities," Sanders said in a foreign policy speech at Westminster College in Fulton, Mo.

"At the exact same time as the president and many of my Republican colleagues want to substantially increase military spending, they want to throw 32 million Americans off of the health insurance they currently have because, supposedly, they are worried about the budget deficit," he continued, referring to GOP efforts to repeal ObamaCare.

The Senate approved a $700 billion defense authorization bill this week, following the House's approval of a $621 billion defense appropriation. The House bill would be a $70 billion increase over current defense spending levels.

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Sanders, who could run for president again in 2020, has often linked military and social spending, demanding, for example, that Trump administration officials justify making tax cuts to the wealthy at the same time they are cutting anti-poverty or health programs.

Defense spending is set to be a major obstacle in the upcoming budgetary battles, which are set to come to a head around a Dec. 8 deadline. Without an agreement or stopgap funding measure, the government will shut down.

Democrats have insisted that any increase in military spending be accompanied, dollar for dollar, with an increase in nondefense discretionary spending. They gave up on the parity principle in their April spending agreement with Republicans.

In his Thursday critique, Sanders quoted President Dwight Eisenhower's speech about how money spent on the military could be used on other priorities. The 1953 "Chance for Peace" speech marked the death of Soviet Union leader Joseph Stalin.

"Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed," Sanders said.

"This world in arms is not spending money alone, It is spending the sweat of its laborers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children. The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities. It is two electric power plants, each serving a town of 60,000 population. It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals. It is some 50 miles of concrete highway,” Sanders said.