The Democratic Socialists of America stand in solidarity with our endorsed member, Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, who courageously voted against expanded ICE and law enforcement funding and massive military spending increases. After passing in the Senate last Thursday, the House on Friday approved a $1.7 trillion package for the FY 2023 federal budget, passing by a 225-201 vote with Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez casting the sole Democratic vote against it, and Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib voting present.
Of the $1.7 trillion, $772.5B was allocated for discretionary non-military funding. This includes important initiatives such as historic increases in funding for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and the National Science Foundation, as well as important Community Project Funding. But it also includes $82B for the Department of Homeland Security, of which $8.5B is for Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and $16.5B for Customs and Border Protection (CBP). This is an enormous 17% funding increase for CBP, much of it dedicated to hiring new agents. Meanwhile, there has been no progress on comprehensive immigration reform and the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, the agency that administers the country’s naturalization and immigration system (including the backlog of asylum claims), is set to receive less funding than last year. The Justice Department is also set for a 10% funding increase, much of which will go to staffing federal law enforcement agencies such as the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agency and U.S. Marshals Service. All the while, domestic funding allocates no dollars whatsoever for COVID.
The omnibus bill also contains an unprecedented $858B for the Pentagon, a massive $80.4B increase from last year. This 10% increase is well above the 4% increase originally sought by Biden and a $117.9B increase over the bill Trump signed into law in 2021. The Department of Defense (DoD) is set to be allocated a colossal $140B just to produce new weapons systems. This is coming on the heels of DoD failing its fifth consecutive audit (since initiating its first-ever independent financial audit back in 2017, it has never passed one), only managing to account for 39 percent of its $3.5 trillion in assets. This Omnibus bill also allocates an additional $47B in new funds for Ukraine, with $29B in military spending, and $20B of that going to US weapon contractors. This puts the total Ukraine spending over $115B, with $80B in military spending. This is a blatant and massive handout to the weapons manufacturing industry. To put this in perspective, this $80B increase alone is 3,200 times the increase the NLRB is getting for labor rights for 2023 — showing just how much the ruling class values the war machine vs. scraps for workers.
The military and law enforcement spending here is not merely outrageous, it’s unconscionable. To add insult to injury, Congress was prevented by Democratic Leadership from deliberating on this bill agency by agency as it had previously done. We congratulate the Congresswoman for exposing how this bill pits different sections of our movement against each other, and how the ruling class keeps forcing unacceptable choices on how to fund our society. We are fighting for a world where workers’ rights and the support our communities deserve are no longer lumped together with violent increases in militarized spending. We reiterate our demand that ICE be abolished and stand stridently against the US war machine.