Skip to main content

Sign up for our newsletter.

Quality journalism. Progressive values. Direct to your inbox.

Yemeni school girls rally outside the United Nations office in Sanaa to mark the universal Children's Day on November 20, 2019. (Photo: Mohammed Huwais/AFP via Getty Images)

'Astonishing Moral Cowardice': Sanders and Khanna Denounce $738 Billion Bipartisan Pentagon Giveaway

"This bill does nothing to rein in out-of-control military spending, prevent unconstitutional war against Iran, limit the poisoning of Americans' drinking water, or end the obscenity of innocent children in Yemen being killed by U.S. bombs."

Jake Johnson

After House and Senate negotiators reached an agreement Monday on a massive annual military spending measure, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Ro Khanna condemned the bipartisan compromise as "a bill of astonishing moral cowardice" that will hand the Pentagon $738 billion in 2020 while doing nothing to end U.S. complicity in Saudi Arabia's assault on Yemen.

"There is no pressing reason for Congress to shower Trump, his Saudi friends, and the Pentagon contractors of the military-industrial complex with this $738-billion taxpayer giveaway right now." 
—Sen. Bernie Sanders, Rep. Ro Khanna

"Congress should have used this National Defense Authorization Act to stop our endless wars," Sanders and Khanna said in a joint statement late Monday. "Instead, this bill does nothing to rein in out-of-control military spending, prevent unconstitutional war against Iran, limit the poisoning of Americans' drinking water, or end the obscenity of innocent children in Yemen being killed by U.S. bombs."

The two progressives noted that the tens of billions of dollars in additional Pentagon spending under the 2020 NDAA would be "more than enough to fund tuition-free public college across America."

Sanders and Khanna added:

Voters would be appalled to know that instead of seizing the opportunity to end illegal U.S. participation in the horrific Saudi-led bombings of Yemen, Congress will continue to fund Trump's unconstitutional war, which threatens to kill 24 million Yemenis facing starvation and disease. Americans will be furious to learn that Congress refused to protect Americans from being poisoned by toxic PFAS chemicals polluting their drinking water.

Every member of Congress should vote against this measure. There is no pressing reason for Congress to shower Trump, his Saudi friends, and the Pentagon contractors of the military-industrial complex with this $738-billion taxpayer giveaway right now. We owe it to the American people to go back to the drawing board. Congress must say no.

As Common Dreams reported last month, Sanders and Khanna led an effort to include amendments to the NDAA that would cut off U.S. support for Saudi Arabia's bombings in Yemen, which have fueled the worst humanitarian crisis in the world.

"This is nothing more than a massive giveaway to the Saudi and Emirati governments, corporate interests, and the military-industrial complex."
—Kate Kizer, Win Without War

But during negotiations with the Senate, the House agreed to strike from the final NDAA a provision that would have suspended the sale of U.S. air-to-ground munitions to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates for one year. No other amendments to end U.S. complicity in Yemen were included in the measure, which could receive a vote in the House as soon as Wednesday.

House-backed provisions to stop Trump from attacking Iran and reverse the president's transgender military ban were also cut out of the final version of the 2020 NDAA.

The House did agree to create a "Space Force"—a move long supported by Trump—in exchange for 12 weeks of paid parental leave for federal workers.

Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, said "it looks like the House got completely rolled on every single policy issue."

"The bill left the House authorizing a ton of money plus important restrictions on nuclear weapons and war policy. Comes back with all the money and zero policy," Cirincione tweeted late Monday. "I support parental leave for federal workers but, seriously, this is a domestic policy issue.  What is it doing on a Pentagon spending bill? Was this the leadership's call? They have a lot of explaining to do on why they caved on every single national security policy. Looks weak."

Win Without War policy director Kate Kizer said the final NDAA shows "Dems can't negotiate themselves out of a paper bag."

"This is nothing more than a massive giveaway to the Saudi and Emirati governments, corporate interests, and the military-industrial complex," Kizer said. "Any member worth their salt must vote no."


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

We've had enough. The 1% own and operate the corporate media. They are doing everything they can to defend the status quo, squash dissent and protect the wealthy and the powerful. The Common Dreams media model is different. We cover the news that matters to the 99%. Our mission? To inform. To inspire. To ignite change for the common good. How? Nonprofit. Independent. Reader-supported. Free to read. Free to republish. Free to share. With no advertising. No paywalls. No selling of your data. Thousands of small donations fund our newsroom and allow us to continue publishing. Can you chip in? We can't do it without you. Thank you.

70% of Americans Support Deciding State Abortion Rights by Ballot Measure: Poll

After an "enormous victory" in Kansas, some progressives argue that ballot measures "are the next frontier" for protecting access to reproductive healthcare.

Jessica Corbett ·


Judge Rules Walgreens 'Substantially Contributed' to San Francisco Opioid Crisis

"Walgreens knew its system to detect and stop suspicious orders was nonexistent but continued to ship opioids at an alarming pace to increase profits," said an attorney for the California city.

Brett Wilkins ·


Historic Climate Bill, Say Clear-Eyed Critics, Still 'Pours Gasoline on the Flames'

"This was a backdoor take-it-or-leave-it deal between a coal baron and Democratic leaders in which any opposition from lawmakers or frontline communities was quashed," said one activist.

Jessica Corbett ·


Doctors Against Oz Launch Campaign Denouncing GOP Candidate as 'Quack'

"ShamWow guy + stethoscope = Dr. Oz," said John Fetterman, the Democratic U.S. Senate candidate in Pennsylvania.

Julia Conley ·


70+ Economists Say US Must Return $7 Billion Stolen From Afghan People

"The people of Afghanistan have been made to suffer doubly for a government they did not choose," says a new letter.

Kenny Stancil ·

Common Dreams Logo