Local Congressional reps back defense bill, while Gillibrand criticizes what was left out
All four local Congressional representatives voted Dec. 7 for a bill to spend $778 billion on defense next year, $25 billion more than what President Joe Biden had requested. The bill passed 363-70, including yeah votes from Democrats Antonio Delgado, Paul Tonko, and Sean Maloney, and Republican Elise Stefanik. While America pulled out of a war in Afghanistan this year, lawmakers voted for a five percent increase over last year’s defense bill. The extra $25 billion that Congress added to Biden's request went to a list of “unfunded requirements,” weapons that military officials would like to have but couldn’t fit in the budget limits set by the White House. At a House hearing last summer, Gen. Mark Milley, chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was asked if any of the items on the list were critical for countering China, terrorism, or other threats. “The answer is no, in my professional opinion. If they were critical, then they [would have been] higher on the priority list," Milley said. The defense bill did address sexual assault in the military, but the House version cut measures that would shift many responsibilities in the military justice system from a commander to a special prosecutor.