Senate Approves $886 Billion Defense Spending Measure

Is $886 billion enough for you? Yesterday, the Senate passed a bill appropriating a cool $886 billion in defense spending. The bill extends authorization for Section 702, which allows for warrantless spying on foreign nationals—and their communications with U.S. citizens.

It gives members of the military 5.2 percent pay raises, and it shells out an awful lot of funding for both Israel and Ukraine. This is in addition to the $111 billion in funds for weapons doled out to allies abroad that Senate Democrats have been working on passing this week. (Zach Weissmueller and I discussed Section 702, the national debt, and the two wars abroad with Kentucky Republican Rep. Thomas Massie this week on our new show, Just Asking Questions.)

The House will vote on the $886 billion defense bill today. It is expected to pass.

As for the 167-page bill that would authorize $111 billion in spending, $15 billion would go toward Ukraine, $10.6 billion would go toward Israel (including $1.2 billion “to accelerate development of the Iron Beam missile defense system” and $4 billion in missile defense spending), $43.6 billion would boost American weapons production, $5 billion would go toward Customs and Border Protection, and $2.3 billion would be doled out to Immigration and Customs Enforcement.

It’s less clear that this one will pass, as the border-securing provisions have been a significant source of debate.

In short, Congress has a spending addiction that cannot be curbed. For libertarians concerned about runaway government spending, or the U.S. getting too heavily involved in foreign wars abroad, or the warrantless spying on American citizens, or the Republican demands to crack down on migration, there is very little to like.

Abortion pills considered by SCOTUS: Yesterday, the Supreme Court announced that it would consider a pair of cases involving the abortion pill mifepristone, specifically considering whether the pill can be prescribed up until 10 weeks of pregnancy (versus seven), whether it can be delivered by mail, and whether it can be prescribed via telehealth appointments.

Mifepristone plus misoprostol, a two-pill combination, are used in more than half of the abortions in the United States. “Mifepristone has been the subject of a high-profile legal battle throughout the past year,” writes Reason‘s Elizabeth Nolan Brown. The ruling will most likely come toward the end of the Court’s term, in June.

“The Supreme Court is now in the unusual position of ruling on abortion access even after its conservative majority declared that it would leave that question to elected officials,” reported The New York Times. The timing of this also means that the abortion ruling will come just a few months before the presidential election.

Republicans are struggling to galvanize support for the pro-life cause in the era of substantial abortion restrictions and high-profile cases like that of Kate Cox, a mother who is traveling out of her home state, Texas, to seek an abortion for her second-trimester fetus who was diagnosed with trisomy 18. For pro-lifers like myself, consistent voter backlash to abortion restrictions has provided ample evidence that my side has failed to make the case as to why we believe abortion is immoral, as well as how laws ought to be diligently crafted to ensure physicians aren’t operating in legal limbo.

Now, as the harrowing medical exemption cases come into full display, it seems likely that the voter backlash will grow even stronger, and that Republicans seeking office will have to contend with the consequences of both the laws their party has created and the Supreme Court’s forthcoming mifepristone ruling.


Scenes from New York:  

A New York Times investigation found that, over a three-week period, the city wasted 70,000 meals intended to go toward migrants.

DocGo, a medical services company (with a CEO embroiled in scandal), received a $432 million contract to provide services for migrants at taxpayers’ expense. The contract stipulates that each meal is worth roughly $11, so the total amount of money wasted comes out to about $776,000. Over the course of a full month, that’s more than a million dollars.

“Look how they’re throwing out the food, because nobody eats it,” said one Venezuelan migrant in a video. “This food is pure trash.”


QUICK HITS

  • Statistician/journalist Nate Silver writes about the big divide between liberals and leftists, first exposed by COVID-19 and now exposed by Israel (featuring some heavy talk of F.A. Hayek).
  • Republican strategists—including former Trump administration official Kellyanne Conway—are telling the rest of the party to deemphasize abortion issues and focus on expanding birth control access.
  • “The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 2nd Circuit recently upheld New York’s requirement that applicants for handgun carry permits demonstrate ‘good moral character,’ deeming it consistent with the Second Amendment,” writes Reason‘s Jacob Sullum. “But the appeals court enjoined enforcement of the state’s demand that applicants submit information about their social media accounts, deeming it inconsistent with the First Amendment as well as the Second.”
  • If the Federal Communications Commission were harassing my son, I’d probably go all Lucille Bluth on it, too:
  • The Federal Reserve signals that rate cuts may be on the horizon.
  • I generally like A24, but this looks bad. I like that it made Texas join forces with California—not Florida—ostensibly to make it seem less inflammatory: