Progressive activists berated members of Congress, which on Wednesday night rejected a pair of amendments to the latest National Defense Authorization Act that would have significantly limited the US military budget.
With the U.S. House of Representatives due to vote this week on the NDAA for fiscal year 2023, progressive Reps. Barbara Lee (D-California) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) sought to include two amendments in a $839 billion bill.
One measure would have cut the Pentagon’s overall budget by $100 billion, while the other would have reversed the $37 billion in additional Pentagon funding added in committee at President Joe Biden’s primary request. The first measure was defeated by a vote of 78 to 350, while the second was defeated by 151 to 277.
“We are racing toward a trillion-dollar military budget that condones and encourages mind-boggling waste, rewards complex military-industrial political spending with contracts of unfathomable magnitude, and fails to address priority national security needs. “said Robert Weissman, president of consumer advocacy. Public Citizen group, said in a statement.
“With the United States spending more on its military than the other nine top-spending countries combined, there’s no serious argument that extra dollars for the Pentagon make us any safer,” Weissman continued. “The good news is that the American people are on the racket and mobilizing to demand a redirection of funds away from the Pentagon and put human needs first.”
“Today’s votes on the amendments led by champions of peace and common sense, Representatives Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan, are the first indicators of this mobilization,” he added. “An overwhelming majority of the Democratic caucus – along with more than a dozen Republicans – voted to reverse the Pentagon’s spending increase added to the Armed Services Committee, showing that Congress’ willingness to meet the military complex’s demand- industrial for more, more, more is rapidly eroding.”
Eric Eikenberry, director of government relations for the peace group Win Without War, lamented that lawmakers “re-emphasized our country’s shattered budget priorities by confirming this mind-boggling number – twice.”
“Two much-needed amendments proposed by Representatives Lee and Pocan would have reduced this outrageous amount,” he noted. “Either would have been a welcome change to a status quo that continues to believe more guns and more war will make us safer. Unfortunately, neither received enough votes to pass. “
“Right now there is no shortage of urgent crises facing our government,” Eikenberry said. “Residents across the country face crumbling infrastructure, underfunded schools and a failing healthcare system, while facing rising costs to pay for essentials like gas, food and housing.”
“The stark reality is that these billions weren’t just given to the Pentagon, they were taken from communities where even a fraction of these funds could have made a fundamental difference,” he added. “Despite the outcome of today’s vote, it’s never too late for members of Congress to come to their senses and budget our real needs against the desires of the arms manufacturers.”