The most recent military spending bill that passed with a wide bipartisan majority came with an increase that could have stopped hunger around the world.
This week, the U.S. Senate agreed on a 89-8 vote to allocate $700 billion toward the Department of Defense and the ongoing wars overseas. $640 billion will go toward essential Pentagon operations, like paying for troops in all branches of the U.S. military, buying new weapons systems, and maintaining U.S. military bases. Another $60 billion is earmarked for overseas military operations, like the ongoing war in Afghanistan.
The amount is unprecedented — Congress ended up giving President Trump $37 billion more than he asked for in his initial budget request, according to the Associated Press. That increase is actually $7 billion more than what the United Nations estimates it would cost each year to solve the food crisis around the world.
In a 2008 report from the New York Times, Jacques Diouf, who was then the head of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization, criticized the world’s wealthiest countries for not stepping up to end world hunger, which he estimated at the time would cost approximately $30 billion per year. The money would go toward food aid for underdeveloped countries, helping poor farmers with more seed and fertilizer, scientific research to make crop yields more fruitful, and breaking down certain export bans and tariffs that prevent food from getting to where it’s most needed.
Aside from Congress increasing the Pentagon budget far beyond what Trump requested, the new defense spending bill also increases funding for U.S. missile defense systems by another $630 million more than what was requested in the White House budget proposal.
Stock prices for the biggest defense contractors are bullish following the announcement of the spending bill’s passage. Lockheed Martin stock is trading at $307.90 per share as of Wednesday evening. Missile manufacturer Raytheon is trading at $185 per share, and Northrop Grumman’s stock is trading at more than $280 a share.
President Trump delivered an address to the United Nations General Assembly on Tuesday. The word “hunger” was not mentioned once throughout the speech. Trump did, however, threaten to “totally destroy” North Korea, which has a population of 25 million people, if the nation attacked the U.S. or any of its allies.
Carl Gibson is a politics contributor for Grit Post. His work has previously been published in The Guardian, The Washington Post, The Houston Chronicle, Al-Jazeera America, and NPR, among others. Follow him on Twitter @crgibs or send him an email at carl at gritpost dot com.