July 14, 2022

Reps. Lee, Pocan Issue Statement on House Vote to Reduce Defense Budget

WASHINGTON, D.C.– U.S. Representatives Barbara Lee (CA-13) and Mark Pocan (WI-02), co-founders and Co-Chairs of the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus and members of the House Appropriations Committee, released the following statement on the House vote on their amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) that would cut the Pentagon’s budget for Fiscal Year (FY) 2023 by $100 billion. Reps. Lee and Pocan also proposed a $37 billion dollar cut to bring the FY23 NDAA topline back to the President’s request of $813.3 billion. 

Since the beginning of the Trump administration defense spending has increased every year—over $100 billion total, an almost 20% increase. Military spending now represents more than half of all federal discretionary spending. A 2021 CBO study found that Pentagon could cut $100b per year without compromising our national defense priorities.

“Congress should not increase the Pentagon’s budget beyond what the administration has requested, and we certainly should not be adding more funding to an unauditable and unaccountable Pentagon,” said Congresswoman Lee. “The House again stands poised to pour over $800 billion dollars into a defense establishment that does little to answer the biggest threats to the safety and welfare of our people. Imagine what we could do with even a fraction of that? We could hire more than 300,000 nurses to address the nation's nursing shortage, provide free, quality child care for more than 800,000 children to help caretakers get back to work, or fully fund Build Back Better's provisions for child and earned income tax credits, improved health care access, and Medicare hearing benefits for seniors.

“The $100 billion dollars Rep. Pocan and I proposed to cut from the Defense budget is sorely needed for other key national priorities. We face an array of threats in America today, including the continuing COVID health emergency and the impacts of the climate crisis. It is our duty to look for savings at the Pentagon and meet the urgent needs of the American people. Enough is enough.”

“An $839 billion defense budget is too much with too little accountability,” Rep. Pocan said. “Cutting just a fraction of the Pentagon’s budget could help address domestic priorities like housing, education, clean energy, and more. I’ll continue fighting alongside Rep. Lee until our budgets are an accurate reflection of our priorities. Until then, I can’t support this unaccountable increase to the Defense budget.”

The proposed $100B dollar cut (Roll Call 316) failed on a vote of 350 to 78, with 1 Republican voting for passage. 

The proposed $37B dollar cut (Roll Call 317) failed on a vote of 277 to 151, with 14 Republicans voting for passage.


Congresswoman Lee is a member of the House Appropriations Committee and Chair of the Subcommittee on State and Foreign Operations. She serves as Co-Chair of the Steering & Policy Committee, former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, Chair Emeritus of the Progressive Caucus, Co-Chair of the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Health Task Force, and Co-Chair of the Pro-Choice Caucus. She also serves as Chair of the Majority Leader’s Task Force on Poverty and Opportunity. As a member of the House Democratic Leadership, she is the highest ranking Black woman in the U.S. Congress.