July 21, 2020

Reps. Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan Statement on House Vote for 10% Cut to Pentagon Budget

Washington, D.C. – Representative Barbara Lee (CA-13), a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Congressional Progressive Caucus, and Representative Mark Pocan (WI-02), co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus, today released a statement on the House’s vote on their amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would cut the pentagon budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2021.  

Since the beginning of the Trump Administration, defense spending has increased every year—over $100 billion, almost 20%, in three years. Military spending now represents more than half of all federal discretionary spending. This proposal, sponsored in the Senate by Senator Bernie Sanders (I-VT) would take

$74 billion in annual savings from the Pentagon—exempting salaries and health care—to create a domestic federal grant program to fund health care, housing, childcare and educational opportunities for cities and towns experiencing a poverty rate of 25% or more. 

“We can’t keep pouring billions into the military while we face a public health crisis and families struggle to make ends meet. Our fight against this global pandemic has not only put a strain on our economy, but has demanded increased investment in human needs,” said Congresswoman Lee. “There is a laundry list of ways we can better invest in America’s needs rather than feed into the military industrial complex. The hundreds of billions of dollars we spend on senseless, outdated war preparation can be better spent on healthcare, schools, and infrastructure, at the least. This amendment would have been a crucial first step in rebalancing our priorities, to build a safer, peaceful, prosperous world, at home and abroad. We must keep up the fight.”   

“A $740 defense budget is a failure,” said Congressman Pocan. “A $74 billion cut to the defense budget would have been a modest reduction to a bloated budget filled with administrative waste and Pentagon slush funds. The American people need Congress to make an investment in their needs—in healthcare, housing and education—not another quarter of a trillion dollar giveaway to defense contractors. Our fight to reprioritize our budget is far from over, and until the federal budget reflects the needs of the American people, we will keep fighting.”

According to Data for Progress’ most recent poll, the majority of American voters want us to put their needs over the profits of Lockheed Martin, Raytheon and Boeing. Fifty-six percent of voters support cutting the defense budget by 10 percent to pay for priorities like fighting the coronavirus, education, healthcare & housing—including 50 percent of Republicans. Fifty-seven percent of voters supported cutting the defense budget by 10 percent if funding was reallocated to the CDC and other more pressing domestic needs. Only 25 percent of people opposed the cut, that means more than twice as many people support an over $70 billion cut to our defense budget than don’t, a 2:1 ratio. 

The amendment to the NDAA did not pass in the House, but received 93 votes in support.