The Pentagon Blew $1 Billion in Coronavirus Relief Funds on Military Equipment

Over 200,000 people in the U.S. have now died from coronavirus, and many millions are still out of work and facing precarious housing in the ongoing economic crisis.

And how's the government's aid working out so far? Last week, the Washington Post broke the news that the Pentagon misused much of $1 billion in congressionally appropriated COVID-19 relief funding, funneling it mostly to military contractors and using the money to make things like jet engine parts, body armor, and dress uniforms.

The $1 billion fund is just a fraction of the trillions in emergency spending that Congress approved months ago to deal with the pandemic. But it shows how the avalanche of bailout cash was unaccountable enough that in cases like this, it was redirected to firms that weren’t meant to be targets for aid. One critic called this "a colossal backdoor bailout for the defense industry."

What could $1 billion in coronavirus aid have paid for instead?

  • 27.84 million coronavirus tests, OR
  • 294.12 million N95 respirator masks, OR
  • 33,333 hospital stays for COVID-19 Patients, OR
  • 32,051 people receiving $600 weekly unemployment insurance payments for 1 Year

See more with NPP's trade-offs tool.

This is yet more evidence that the Pentagon doesn’t need more funding in times of crisis. From pandemics to climate crisis, the real threats we face don't have military solutions. The Pentagon is such an unreliable, unaccountable actor that we need more civilian control of military resources, not more militarized funding. 

U.S. over-investment in the military left us vulnerable to coronavirus in the first place. Continuing to bloat the Pentagon while other priorities are starved will only fuel the disasters we're already facing.