FORT DRUM, N.Y. – The John McCain National Defense Authorization Act bill $716 billion defense is about to become law.
McCain (R-Ariz.), a former GOP presidential nominee, Vietnam War hero and POW, is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee and a supporter of most of the priorities contained in the legislation. The bill setting policy priorities for the Pentagon for the coming year is formally named the “John S. McCain National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2019.”
McCain, 81, has been mostly absent from the Senate this year as he is undergoing treatment for brain cancer. He has kept up his criticism of the president from his Arizona home, including calling Trump’s performance alongside Russian President Vladi¬mir Putin at last month’s summit in Helsinki “one of the most disgraceful performances by an American president in memory.”
“The damage inflicted by President Trump’s naivete, egotism, false equivalence, and sympathy for autocrats is difficult to calculate. But it is clear that the summit in Helsinki was a tragic mistake,” McCain said in a statement issued by his office. “President Trump proved not only unable, but unwilling to stand up to Putin. He and Putin seemed to be speaking from the same script as the president made a conscious choice to defend a tyrant against the fair questions of a free press, and to grant Putin an uncontested platform to spew propaganda and lies to the world.”
Trump frequently publicly disparages McCain, although usually not by name. Instead, he recounts in detail how McCain voted against the Senate Republican plan to repeal the Affordable Care Act 13 months ago.
McCain helped kill the GOP bill with a thumbs-down vote.
Vice President Pence is scheduled to join Trump for the event at this northern New York military base, which is home to the Army’s 10th Mountain Division.
The overwhelmingly bipartisan spending plan, approved by the Senate in June on an 85-to-10 vote, represents an $82 billion increase over the current year. The 2019 figure is one of the biggest defense budgets in modern American history, despite concerns from some economists and lawmakers about the rising federal deficit.
The military has called the additional funding necessary to improve the response to international crises.
About 17 percent of the $4 trillion U.S. federal budget goes to the military, according to the Congressional Budget Office.