The U.S. House of Representatives on Thursday approved a $68 billion increase in military spending next year with legislation that also provides money to start construction of President Donald Trump’s Mexican border wall.
The bill increased spending on the U.S. capability to defend itself from foreign missile attacks amid growing concerns about North Korea’s increasing capacity to hit the United States with a nuclear-tipped missile after it successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile in July.
The money for the wall is dwarfed by the $658.1 billion the bill would provide for the Defense Department, an increase of $68.1 billion above the fiscal year 2017 enacted level and $18.4 billion above Trump’s budget request.
The House voted 235-192 for the fiscal 2018 spending bill that would provide $1.6 billion for initial construction of a wall on the U.S.-Mexico border, which was a centerpiece of Trump’s 2016 presidential campaign.
Democrats repeatedly have referred to any money for the wall as a “poison pill” and are likely to try to kill it in the Senate.
Congress is up against an Oct. 1 deadline – the start of a new fiscal year – for either passing spending bills or temporarily extending funding at current-year levels to give negotiators more time to come to agreements.
Funding for the wall was tucked into a wide-ranging national security appropriations bill at the last minute by Republican leadership, knowing that many House members who oppose the wall would not sink defense spending with a “no” vote.
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