July 12, 2019

Congresswoman Barbara Lee Votes No on the Wasteful National Defense Authorization Act

WASHINGTON, DC – Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee released the following statement on the FY20 National Defense Authorization Act passed by the U.S. House of Representatives: 

“Every year, Congress has the opportunity to reassess our national security priorities and work towards lasting peace.  

“While the Fiscal Year (FY) 2020 National Defense Authorization Act included many provisions I support, including strong protections for transgender servicemembers, paid family and medical leave, and a 3.1% pay increase for our servicemembers, I remain gravely concerned by the significant increase in funding to the Department of Defense included in this bill. 

“The FY20 NDAA should be a roadmap for dialing down the United States’ endless wars and ending bloated Pentagon spending. Instead, Congress once again voted to increase the Pentagon’s budget to $733 billion, the largest number ever authorized. After failing its first agency-wide audit last year, Congress should not be rewarding the Pentagon with a massive spending increase.

“I applaud Chairman Smith for including language I have advocated for each year to require an annual report ranking the status of auditability of each military department and Defense Agencies. The language also requires the DOD to submit a plan for achieving an unmodified audit opinion within five years. It is long past time to end the culture of waste, fraud and abuse at the Department of Defense. 

“For the first time in years, Congress took measurable steps to address our nation’s endless wars by adopting my amendment to repeal the outdated 2002 Iraq Authorization for the Use of Military Force (AUMF). This historic vote ensures that authorizations for the use of military force are not kept on the books indefinitely, leaving them subject to abuse by the Executive Branch.

“I am also pleased that the House adopted my amendment recognizing that the 2001 AUMF has been used far beyond the scope Congress intended when it passed the House in September 2001. The lack of clear parameters in the 2001 AUMF has allowed three consecutive administrations to wage war in any place and any at any time without Congressional oversight. The parameters laid out in my amendment lay the ground work for building consensus in Congress for a replacement to the 2001 AUMF. 

“I was proud to co-lead on a bipartisan amendment with Rep. Khanna (D-CA) to prohibit an unconstitutional war with Iran. The adoption of this amendment sent a clear message to the Trump Administration that Congress is reasserting its Constitutional authority to declare war. We cannot afford another costly and destabilizing war in the Middle East, and this language prevents any funds from being used for military force against Iran unless Congress passes a specific authorization.  

“Lastly, the bill included language to correct the historic wrong against the Port Chicago 50. The 50 African American sailors at Port Chicago, who boldly stood against discrimination and refused to return to unsafe work conditions, should be remembered as heroes. The charges of mutiny levied against these service members was wrong and I proudly stand with Rep. DeSaulnier in the passage of our amendment to right this wrong, recognize the historic specter of discrimination and racism in the armed forces, and honor these men and their service.

“At the end of the day, despite the inclusion of these amendments, I could not support a bill that funds the Pentagon at a level well beyond what is necessary for our national defense.”