Even as Afghan War Ends, GOP Attempts to Add $25B to Military Budget

Just as the United States completed its troop withdrawal from Afghanistan on Monday after two decades of war and occupation, House Republicans announced plans to push for a $25 billion increase in annual military spending—a proposal that progressive lawmakers and advocacy groups swiftly rejected.

Led by Rep. Mike Rogers (R-Ala.), the top Republican on the House Armed Services Committee, the GOP intends to pursue a National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) amendment that would add $25 billion to President Joe Biden’s $753 billion topline military spending request for Fiscal Year 2022.

The House Armed Services panel—which is awash in donations from weapons makers and other major industry players—is expected to begin marking up Biden’s request on Wednesday.

“Rogers’ amendment would dole out $15 billion to address a spate of military unfunded priorities that weren’t included in the Pentagon’s budget request,” Politico reported Monday. “It would add $9.8 billion to weapons procurement accounts, including money for four more Navy ships, more planes and helicopters for the Navy, Marine Corps, and National Guard, and upgraded Army combat vehicles.”

Approval of the GOP’s amendment would bring the House version of the NDAA—a sprawling annual defense policy bill that typically passes with overwhelming bipartisan support—into line with the Senate’s. Last month, as Common Dreams reported, the Senate Armed Services Committee agreed to pile $25 billion onto Biden’s proposal, which already calls for an increase over Trump-era Pentagon spending levels.

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Teen arrested in connection with GOP strategist’s alleged sex trafficking scheme

A 19-year-old college student has been arrested in connection with an alleged trafficking scheme involving a ​​Minneapolis-based GOP strategist and PAC founder. 

According to jail records, Gisela Castro Medina was booked by the Okaloosa County Sheriff’s Department in Florida, where a recent Instagram post revealed she had been vacationing. 

The Okaloosa Department of Corrections said that she was on hold to be transferred to the FBI in Minnesota under the same charges federal authorities brought against Anton “Tony” Lazzaro: sex trafficking of a minor, conspiracy to commit sex trafficking and obstruction of justice. 

Records revealed that Castro Medina was denied bond and was released to be transferred to another agency on Friday. 

The indictment released by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Minnesota on Thursday had listed a second individual charged in the case along with Lazzaro, though the person’s name had been redacted. 

The Hill has reached out to the U.S. attorney’s office for additional information. 

Castro Medina, a student at the Catholic University of St. Thomas in Minnesota, had recently assumed the role of chair of her school’s chapter of the Minnesota College Republicans, the group said in a statement posted on Twitter on Saturday. 

The group’s statewide chair, Nia Moore, said in the press release that she had been informed that Castro Medina “was arrested alongside Anton Lazzaro.” 

“We as an organization are absolutely disgusted by the actions of Ms. Medina, and have cut all ties with her effective immediately,” she added. 

“Our prayers go out to the victims of Anton Lazzaro and Gisela Medina — we believe you,” the College Republicans chair wrote. “We stand with you. May justice be served.” 

It was not immediately clear if Castro Medina has an attorney representing her in the case. 

The Daily Beast on Saturday first reported news of the 19-year-old’s arrest. 

According to the indictment filed this week in the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, authorities said Lazzaro allegedly conspired with others to recruit and solicit minors to participate in commercial sex acts. 

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