This week in Congress

The U.S. House and Senate are in session for as long as it takes to wrap up business for the year. As of this writing, there is still not a deal on a Fiscal Year 2021 Omnibus Appropriations bill, but the two sides are said to be close to an agreement. The House and Senate will likely pass a short-term funding bill keeping the government open until December 18 later this

Negotiations also continue over a possible coronavirus relief bill. Last week, a “bipartisan” group of senators and representatives unveiled a $908 billion coronavirus spending proposal. The figure is designed to split the difference between House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s $2 trillion+ proposals and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell’s “skinny” $500 billion relief bill.

The compromise appears to be gaining support and could achieve majority support of both chambers of Congress, especially as more cities and states reimpose draconian lockdowns, increasing unemployment and economic anxiety.

Speaker Pelosi has indicated that she would support folding the coronavirus spending bill into the omnibus, but so far, neither the Senate nor the Trump administration have backed that approach.

Congress will also consider the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). President Trump has threatened to veto the bill over a provision that would rename military installations currently named after Confederate military leaders and the fact that the bill does not modify the “big tech” companies’ legal liability in place under Section 230 of the 1996 Communications Decency Act. The House and Senate may have the votes to override a presidential veto.

The NDAA authorizes $740.5 billion in military spending. It also authorizes a new “Pacific Defense Initiative,” aimed at countering Chinese influence in the region. The initiative will increase the U.S. military footprint in the Pacific and is just one of several measures aimed at China. The NDAA also includes several measures aimed at increasing the new cold war with Russia, including military aid for the Ukraine.

In a move designed to throw a monkey wrench into President Trump’s stated desire to withdraw troops form Afghanistan, the NDAA requires presidential assessment of the risks before withdrawing substantial numbers of troops. The bill also forbids the withdrawal of U.S. Troops from South Korea.

At a time when the U.S. deficit is skyrocketing -- thanks largely but not entirely to the spending on coronavirus packages -- it would seem to make sense to cut back on foreign spending. It would also seem to make sense not to try to prolong America’s longest war.

It makes no sense to keep trying to start two new Cold Wars with China and Russia. This is especially true given that China holds large amounts of U.S. debt and is already moving to challenge the U.S. Dollar’s world reserve currency status. But our political, economic, and media elites’ refuse to abandon the idea that the U.S. should run the world.

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