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senate Bill S. 985

Should the Pentagon & Congress Monitor U.S. Allies’ Military Spending?

Argument in favor

U.S. contributions to mutually beneficial security efforts should be matched by our allies. Keeping track of our allies’ defense spending and contributions to joint operations will help Congress ensure that the U.S. is not taken advantage of by allies who fail to pay their fair share of our mutual defense.

Gopin2018's Opinion
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07/18/2019
I support this, since the forming of NATO the US has been picking up most of this tab and finally under Trump they are being forced to pay their fair share, still not all but were getting their. We must do our own accounting of what there paying and not take their word as gospel. #MAGA
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James's Opinion
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07/19/2019
Looks like the Congress is more interested in harassing President Trump than doing their job,
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Tooluser1's Opinion
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07/19/2019
Congress can't do their own job, much less anyone else's.
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Argument opposed

Measuring our allies’ defense spending in dollars alone doesn’t fully account for the value they bring to mutual defense efforts. Additionally, expecting most U.S. allies to spend as much as the U.S. on defense simply isn’t reasonable, given the U.S.’ larger economy and more sophisticated military. Finally, NATO already provides this information in its annual secretary-general report.

IllWill's Opinion
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07/19/2019
The U.S. spends so much on the military because we’ve chosen to pretend that we’re actually the world’s policeman when we’re actually just helping our defense contractors make money off of war. And yet, we’re going to complain when our allies don’t spend as much as us? This is absurd! Also, we would never accept other countries monitoring our military spending so why should we monitor theirs?
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Terry's Opinion
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07/19/2019
It’s none of our business. Worry about our spending
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Dicr's Opinion
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07/19/2019
We need to monitor our spending and at least cut it in half.
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bill Progress


  • Not enacted
    The President has not signed this bill
  • The house has not voted
  • The senate has not voted
      senate Committees
      Committee on Foreign Relations
    IntroducedApril 2nd, 2019

What is Senate Bill S. 985?

This bill — the Allied Burden Sharing Report Act of 2019 — would direct the Dept. of Defense (DOD) to submit an annual report to Congress describing: 1) U.S. allies’ annual defense spending, their contributions to military or stability operations in which the U.S. participates, and limitations they place on their military contributions’ use; and 2) actions taken by the U.S. or other countries to minimize limitations on allies’ contributions.

This report would be submitted to the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Senate Armed Services Committee, House Armed Services Committee, and House Foreign Affairs Committee.

Impact

U.S. allies; Department of Defense; and Congress.

Cost of Senate Bill S. 985

A CBO cost estimate for this bill is unavailable.

More Information

In-DepthSen. Mike Lee (R-UT) re introduced this bill from the 115th Congress to require the Dept. of Defense (DOD) to resume submitting an extensive report that includes the common defense contributions of NATO countries and other defense partners, including GCC countries, Australia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, Thailand, the Philippines, and signatories of the Rio Treaty

“NATO and other mutual defense agreements have a purpose, but the United States cannot and should not bear the greatest brunt of the financial burden in global alliances and defense partnerships. The information included in this report would be instrumental in informing Congress’ oversight of our own military and defense spending and would help educate lawmakers on the return on investment we receive in exchange for our contributions and commitments. For security alliances and partnerships to be most effective, all parties must pull their weight.”

When he introduced this bill in the 115th Congress, Rep. Lee said:

“NATO and other mutual defense agreements have a purpose, but until we no longer bear the greatest brunt of the financial burden, we cannot and should not consider expanding these commitments. The information included in this report would be instrumental in informing Congress’ oversight of our own military and defense spending and would help educate lawmakers on the return on investment we receive in exchange for our involvement in global alliances.”

President Trump has made U.S. contributions to mutual defense agreements, and the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) in particular, an important issue in his administration’s foreign policy agenda. Ahead of NATO’s July 2018 summit in Brussels, President Trump tweeted twice on this issue:

“The United States is spending far more on NATO than any other Country. This is not fair, nor is it acceptable. While these countries have been increasing their contributions since I took office, they must do much more. Germany is at 1%, the U.S. is at 4%, and NATO benefits Europe far more than it does the U.S. By some accounts, the U.S. is paying for 90% of NATO, with many countries nowhere close to their 2% commitment. On top of this the European Union has a Trade Surplus of $151 Million with the U.S., with big Trade Barriers on U.S. goods. NO!”

President Trump also wrote letters to some NATO members ahead of the Brussels summit, stating that Americans were tired of funding Europe’s defense and wanted to see other NATO members carrying more of the load:

““[It is] increasingly difficult to justify to American citizens why some countries do not share NATO’s collective security… I, therefore, expect to see a strong recommitment by [country] to meet the goals to which we all agreed.”

Reportedly, the letter sent to Germany contained some of the harshest language.

Then-Defense Secretary Jim Mattis supported President Trump’s position, telling NATO allies to meet their budget targets, or “see America moderate its commitment to this alliance.”

After the 2018 Brussels summit, NATO members’ heads of state released a joint formal statement pledging an “unwavering commitment” to meeting defense spending targets:

“We reaffirm our unwavering commitment to all aspects of the Defence Investment Pledge agreed at the 2014 Wales Summit, and to submit credible national plans on its implementation, including the spending guidelines for 2024, planned capabilities, and contributions. Fair burden sharing underpins the Alliance’s cohesion, solidarity, credibility, and ability to fulfil our Article 3 and Article 5 commitments. We welcome the considerable progress made since the Wales Summit with four consecutive years of real growth in non-US defence expenditure.  All Allies have started to increase the amount they spend on defence in real terms and some two-thirds of Allies have national plans in place to spend 2% of their Gross Domestic Product on defence by 2024. More than half of Allies are spending more than 20% of their defence expenditures on major equipment, including related research and development, and, according to their national plans, 24 Allies will meet the 20% guideline by 2024. Allies are delivering more of the heavier, high-end capabilities we require and are improving the readiness, deployability, sustainability, and interoperability of their forces. The number of activities in which we are engaged has increased, and Allies continue to make valuable force and capability contributions that benefit the security of the Euro-Atlantic area through NATO’s operations, missions, and other activities, as well as through the operations and missions conducted under national authority and the authority of other organisations. As we take stock of the national plans that exist today, we appreciate the unprecedented progress and recognise that much work still remains.  We are committed to improving the balance of sharing the costs and responsibilities of Alliance membership.”

Johannese Thimm, of the German Institute for International and Security Affairs, argues that U.S. military dominance makes asymmetry in NATO contributions between the U.S. and Europe is inevitable:

“First, even if NATO is viewed in purely transactional terms… it is a good deal for Washington. Americans calling for more equal burden-sharing, including Trump himself, suggest that the US supports NATO mostly for altruistic reasons. In other words[,] that America is doing Europe a favor. But this picture is incomplete. For the US military, NATO is a force multiplier, providing legitimacy to American power. European allies are engaged in numerous missions like Afghanistan, while the United States mostly calls the shots. US bases in Europe not only protect European allies, but serve as logistics hubs to project power into the Middle East. These are assets the US military would not want to give up. Second, the US defense budget does not depend on Europe’s military spending. It is misleading to argue that Europe must spend more so that the United States can spend less. The Pentagon’s budget is determined by Washington’s assessment of the capabilities necessary to maintain US strategic dominance – on its own, not through any alliance… [Finally, the] US nuclear umbrella is the core of NATO, which was deliberately designed that way. The principle of collective security under Article 5 of the NATO Treaty ultimately depends on nuclear deterrence, which is mainly American. The idea is that everybody, including the Russian government, is aware that an attack on a NATO member could trigger a nuclear war, and thus is deterred from trying it. American taxpayers bear considerable costs to maintain the US nuclear arsenal. But on the one hand no-one in the United States would be prepared to give up US nuclear superiority, and on the other the guarantee of protection discourages other countries from striving for nuclear status themselves (the same logic applies to the US alliances with Japan and South Korea).”

This bill has two Republican Senate cosponsors in the 116th Congress. A House version, sponsored by Rep. Mark Green (R-TN), has one Republican House cosponsor, Rep. Mike Kelly (R-PA), in the current Congress.

In the 115th Congress, this bill had the support of two Republican Senate cosponsors and didn't see committee action.


Of NoteNATO has an official goal that all members spend 2% of their GDP on their armed forces. Currently, the U.S. spends 3.5% of its GDP on defense, while the United Kingdom, Poland, Estonia, Greece, Romania, Lithuania, and Latvia are also expected to meet the 2% goal in 2018.

Since NATO’s founding, U.S. presidents have pressed their European allies to increase defense spending in support of the shared NATO mission. Most recently, both the Obama and Bush administration pressed allies to increase their investments to support NATO operations. President Bush made his plea at the Bucharest Summit in 2006. President Obama called on allies to meet their spending commitments to 2% of GDP on defense and 20% of defense spending on equipment in 2014.

NATO already compiles its countries' defense expenditures in its annual secretary-general report. In the late 1990s, the Pentagon produced its own similar report, but hasn't produced one in recent years.


Media:

Summary by Lorelei Yang
(Photo Credit: iStockphoto.com / Lanier)

AKA

Allied Burden Sharing Report Act of 2019

Official Title

A bill to require annual reports on allied contributions to the common defense, and for other purposes.

    I support this, since the forming of NATO the US has been picking up most of this tab and finally under Trump they are being forced to pay their fair share, still not all but were getting their. We must do our own accounting of what there paying and not take their word as gospel. #MAGA
    Like (29)
    Follow
    Share
    The U.S. spends so much on the military because we’ve chosen to pretend that we’re actually the world’s policeman when we’re actually just helping our defense contractors make money off of war. And yet, we’re going to complain when our allies don’t spend as much as us? This is absurd! Also, we would never accept other countries monitoring our military spending so why should we monitor theirs?
    Like (52)
    Follow
    Share
    It’s none of our business. Worry about our spending
    Like (33)
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    Share
    We need to monitor our spending and at least cut it in half.
    Like (33)
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    Are We also going to cut OUR Military spending to 2% of the GDP? Are we going to let them monitor our spending? Until that happens, how about we mind our own? until we can get some control over our absurd bloated military budget we have no business criticizing others.
    Like (26)
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    No. The only purpose I can see for this is to gain public support for bullying allies into meeting the costs which we prescribe to be their fair share of shared military operations. It is either that or somebody needs some righteous sounding legislation so they can claim they actually did something when campaigning. We need allies and do not need a tool to increasingly publicly bully them. The information requested for this report should be available upon request to appropriate classified congressional sub committees. It should also be available to appropriate diplomats to negotiate changes, if needed- without the need to publicly denigrate allies or expose their overall military budgets or efforts.
    Like (23)
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    The cheap donkey occupying the White House needs to stop pissing off our allies. We are the richest nation in the world and can well afford to pay a little more to protect our allies and keep the world safe from the likes of another Hitler or Stalin. If he wasn’t in bed with Putin and other autocrats, and listening to the war mongers in his cabinet we might keep the world safe.
    Like (16)
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    We can't even monitor and track our own military spending, so why should we try to do it for other countries? Let's start with auditing and tightening our own military budget first.
    Like (15)
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    No. Pay attention to your own issues and military actions! And work more on diplomacy and cooperation with allies.
    Like (14)
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    If they are our allies, why should we need to monitor their activities? We can’t keep our eye on everyone, especially trusted allies nations.
    Like (14)
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    Looks like the Congress is more interested in harassing President Trump than doing their job,
    Like (13)
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    Congress can't do their own job, much less anyone else's.
    Like (13)
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    The U.S. spends so much on the military because we’ve chosen to pretend that we’re actually the world’s policeman when we’re actually just helping our defense contractors make money off of war. And yet, we’re going to complain when our allies don’t spend as much as us? This is absurd! Also, we would never accept other countries monitoring our military spending so why should we monitor theirs?
    Like (9)
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    We spend/waste more on military spending then Russia and China, plus multiple other countries combined. We need to cut our spending feeding the military industrial complex and the war mongering it creates.
    Like (8)
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    Defense budgets need to cut the fat. We spend more than the next seven countries combined. Too much is going begging here in the US like infrastructure for starters.
    Like (7)
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    Congress either passed the Bill or not. They should never have any control over our military with the exception of passing Bills. Most never served and have no clue.
    Like (7)
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    We need to cut our bloated military spending , house every vet, give them premium health services. Then we can worry about our allies military spending
    Like (7)
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    👍🏻Senate Bill S.985 AKA the Allied Burden Sharing Report Act of 2019👍🏻 I’m in support and strongly recommend the passage of theSenate Bill S.985 AKA the Allied Burden Sharing Report Act of 2019 would direct the Dept. of Defense (DOD) to submit an annual report to Congress describing: 1) U.S. allies’ annual defense spending, their contributions to military or stability operations in which the U.S. participates, and limitations they place on their military contributions’ use; and 2) actions taken by the U.S. or other countries to minimize limitations on allies’ contributions. U.S. contributions to mutually beneficial security efforts should be matched by our allies. Keeping track of our allies’ defense spending and contributions to joint operations will help Congress ensure that the U.S. is not taken advantage of by allies who fail to pay their fair share of our mutual defense. SneakyPete..... 👍🏻S.985👍🏻. 7.19.19
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    First the DOD must pass a full 10 year audit. Until then stop the endless flow of waste, overcharging, padding their own pockets, missing more money each audit asking for more and always getting it!?!? They had how many billions to spare for the wall? No if we don't take care of our own first, what place have we to say anything. Besides uncovering the corruption at home, will give you invaluable insight into where to look for corruption on our allies defense budgets.
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    Should other sovereign powers inspect and expect the USA military budget? This is asinine. Unless we are truly declaring an emperor and expecting our vassal states to abide by our laws then this is unreasonable. We signed treaties without requiring this. We should honor them or our word is not worth the paper it’s written on. Other countries have their own priorities and abilities to provide for their own people. We should not be interfering in other country’s government. It has not worked for 100 years and has as is the case of the Central American countries come back to haunt us.
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