Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), a 2020 Democratic presidential candidate, asks for time to speak during the third Democratic primary debate of at Texas Southern University in Houston, Texas on September 12, 2019. (Photo: Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images)

Challenging Biden on Iraq War Vote, Sanders Denounces Bloated Trump Pentagon Budget During Democratic Debate

"I don't think we have to spend $750 billion a year on the military when we don't even know who our enemy is."

Jake Johnson

Distinguishing himself from his 2020 presidential rivals on the issue of America's obscene military spending—which continues to soar year after year with bipartisan support—Sen. Bernie Sanders touted his record as the only candidate on stage during Thursday night's Democratic debate who has opposed all of President Donald Trump's Pentagon budget proposals.

"I think... I am the only person up here to have voted against all three of Trump's military budgets," the Vermont senator said to applause. "I don't think we have to spend $750 billion a year on the military when we don't even know who our enemy is."

"The Pentagon is set to grow by $90 billion and reach $738 billion next year. For $90 billion, we could double nutrition assistance or provide $7,000 to every child in poverty."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders

In 2017, Sens. Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and then-Rep. Beto O'Rourke (D-Texas.)—the only other 2020 contenders on stage Thursday who were in Congress at the time—all voted for the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2018, which handed the Pentagon $700 billion. Sanders voted no.

Sanders also voted against the 2019 NDAA and a procedural motion for the 2020 NDAA. The House and Senate still have to reconcile the 2020 NDAA before both chambers take a final vote on the legislation.

"I think that what we have got to do is bring this world together—bring it together on climate change, bring it together in fighting against terrorism, and make it clear that we as a planet, as a global community, will work together to help countries around the world rebuild their struggling economies and do everything that we can to rid the world of terrorism," said Sanders.

"But dropping bombs on Afghanistan and Iraq was not the way to do it," added the senator.

Watch:

Sanders also took aim at former Vice President Joe Biden's support for the Iraq War, a record Biden attempted to obfuscate in the days leading up to Thursday's debate in Houston.

"You talked about the big mistake in Iraq and the surge. The truth is, the big mistake, the huge mistake, and one of the big differences between you and me, I never believed what Cheney and Bush said about Iraq," said Sanders, addressing Biden. "I voted against the war in Iraq and helped lead the opposition."

As Common Dreams reported in August, Sanders has called for slashing America's enormous Pentagon budget and using the funds to invest in domestic priorities like healthcare, tuition-free college, and assistance for the poor.

"The Pentagon is set to grow by $90 billion and reach $738 billion next year. For $90 billion, we could double nutrition assistance or provide $7,000 to every child in poverty," Sanders tweeted last month. "We cannot keep handing over billions to the military-industrial complex."


Our work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0). Feel free to republish and share widely.

This is the world we live in. This is the world we cover.

Because of people like you, another world is possible. There are many battles to be won, but we will battle them together—all of us. Common Dreams is not your normal news site. We don't survive on clicks. We don't want advertising dollars. We want the world to be a better place. But we can't do it alone. It doesn't work that way. We need you. If you can help today—because every gift of every size matters—please do. Without Your Support We Simply Don't Exist.

Please select a donation method:

At Times Square Rally, Activists Demand Congress 'Tax the Rich'

"If billionaires can afford to go to space, they can afford to pay their fair share."

Brett Wilkins ·


'Recess Can Wait': 23 Groups Demand Senate Stay in DC to Pass For the People Act

"It would be unconscionable for the Senate to break for recess without addressing the ongoing assaults on our democratic systems happening across the nation."

Jessica Corbett ·


Nina Turner Primary Opponent Shontel Brown Facing Felony Ethics Probe

"This is certainly a shocking revelation and it raises very serious ethical and legal questions," says Kara Turrentine, Turner's deputy campaign manager.

Brett Wilkins ·


Human Rights Watch Accuses Israel of 'Apparent War Crimes' During May Assault on Gaza

"Israeli forces carried out attacks in Gaza in May that devastated entire families without any apparent military target nearby."

Jessica Corbett ·


Drone Whistleblower Daniel Hale Sentenced to 45 Months in Prison 'For Exposing US War Crimes'

"His crime was telling this truth: 90% of those killed by U.S. drones are bystanders, not the intended targets," said Edward Snowden. "He should have been given a medal."

Kenny Stancil ·