July 14, 2017

Congresswoman Barbara Lee’s Statement on the Passage of the National Defense Authorization Act

Washington, D.C. – Congresswoman Lee released the following statement following the passage of the FY18 National Defense Authorization Act:

“The National Defense Authorization Act should be a roadmap for reigning in Pentagon waste and responsibly drawing down our endless wars overseas. Instead, Congressional Republicans have chosen to bankroll bloated Pentagon spending and funnel billions into the Overseas Contingency Operations slush fund, while refusing to address our fundamental obligation to debate our ongoing military operations.

“I do applaud the inclusion of the Cole Amendment, which directs the President to report on a strategy on Al Qaeda, the Taliban, and ISIS. However, the Cole Amendment should not be considered an effective substitute for my amendment repealing the 2001 AUMF that was adopted in the DOD Appropriations bill last month. I remain convinced that, absent a mandatory deadline, Congress will have no incentive to hold a debate and vote on this issue.

“Additionally, I was pleased to see that the Burgess-Lee Amendment requiring a Pentagon audit report from Secretary Mattis was adopted in this bill. It’s been more than a quarter of a century since legislation was enacted requiring every federal agency to conduct an audit. It’s outrageous that all these years later, the Pentagon is defying this law and asking taxpayers to foot the bill for excessive and unexamined spending.

“It’s also encouraging that this bill directs Secretary Mattis to report to Congress on policies regarding HIV-positive service members. It’s long past time for the US military to ensure its HIV policies are based in science, not stigma. Finally, I was relieved that the offensive and bigoted Hartzler Amendment was defeated on the House Floor yesterday. Our men and women in uniform deserve our deepest gratitude, not baseless discrimination.”

“However, any defense legislation that fails to require a debate and vote on a new military authorization is a missed opportunity. After almost sixteen years of unrestricted war, the best action that Congress can take for our troops is to debate matters of war and peace.”