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Congress Debating Defense Spending


Congress is working on the National Defense Authorization Act. It passed the U.S. House and is currently before the Senate. Not everyone agrees on what the measure should look like.

The National Defense Authorization Act approves appropriations and sets policies for Department of Defense programs and activities. U.S. Senator Mike Rounds says more money should be spent on defense programs.
“Defense spending is not going up, it is going down during a time in which our world is more dangerous than it’s ever been in the last couple of years,” Rounds says. “We’ve got Russia, which is clearly being belligerent. We have China which is making claims in the South Pacific that are dangerous for everybody in the area. And they’re both growing their defenses, and they’re looking at ways to look into areas in the world that in the past they have not been active. And during the same period we sit here cutting our defense budget.”
Rounds says Congress should be looking at more funds for cyber security, space security, and modernization. He says if more money is not allotted to defense, members of the military could lose their jobs.
Executive Director of the South Dakota Peace and Justice Center, Kristi McLaughlin, says the U.S. should spend less money on defense. She says it’s important to take care of soldiers and their families. But she says the country should scale back on funding weaponry.
“We do need to have some kind of a system that would protect us,” McLaughlin says. “But I don’t think we need to be the military industry complex either. There’s countries that have limited military and they do fine. They don’t put as much money into it as we do and they do fine. They live relatively at peace, if not more at peace, and they seek other alternatives besides just bombing people when things go wrong.”  
McLaughlin says she’d like to see more money go towards other areas like education.