A proposal by Sen. Bernie Sanders to slash the Pentagon budget by $74 billion gained a boost last Friday after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer announced his support for the amendment, potentially giving the measure needed momentum in the Democratic caucus a week before it is scheduled to receive a floor vote.
"Proud I fought alongside Sen. Sanders to ensure we vote in July on his amendment to cut $740 billion defense budget by 10% and put money into priorities like healthcare, housing, childcare in communities with 25%+ poverty—including many communities of color," tweeted Schumer, who voted for every Pentagon budget increase proposed during the first three years of the Trump administration.
"Let me thank Sen. Schumer for his support for my amendment to cut the bloated $740 billion Pentagon budget by 10% and invest $74 billion in communities that have been ravaged by extreme poverty and mass incarceration."
—Sen. Bernie Sanders
"I proudly support the amendment," said the New York Democrat.
The Vermont senator's amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) would slash just over $74 billion off the proposed $740.5 Pentagon budget for fiscal year 2021 and reinvest the savings in impoverished communities.
Sanders introduced the amendment on June 25 alongside Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.). The full Republican-controlled Senate is expected to vote on the proposal when senators return from recess next week.
"Let me thank Sen. Schumer for his support for my amendment to cut the bloated $740 billion Pentagon budget by 10% and invest $74 billion in communities that have been ravaged by extreme poverty and mass incarceration," Sanders tweeted Friday. "This amendment will begin to change our national priorities."
Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.)—the co-sponsor along with Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Pramila Jayapal (D-Wash.) of a companion amendment in the House—also applauded the Senate Democratic leader for backing the effort to slash the Pentagon budget.
"Glad to have Sen. Schumer join Sen. Sanders, Rep. Barbara Lee, and I to demand a 10% cut from this year's bloated defense budget," tweeted Pocan, co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus. "The time is long overdue to reshape our national priorities and put the needs of the American people first."
The time is long overdue to reshape our national priorities and put the needs of the American people first. https://t.co/6y8c3a4lqv
— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) July 10, 2020
As Common Dreams reported last month, more than 60 progressive advocacy groups have endorsed the Sanders-Markey-Warren amendment and are pressuring other senators to back the proposal.
"It's refreshing to see Sen. Schumer, notorious advocate of war and U.S. militarism abroad, join the call to cut the Pentagon by 10%!" tweeted anti-war group CodePink. "A big thanks to Sen. Sanders for helping Schumer begin to see the light. We must urge more of Congress to defund the Pentagon."
In a tweet on Monday, Win Without War urged Americans to contact their representatives and demand they vote in favor of the amendment.
TIME TO WRITE YOUR SENATORS
Urge them to vote to pass the upcoming Sanders-Markey-Warren amendment to cut 10% from the bloated Pentagon budget (that's $74B!), and invest that money in the communities that actually need it instead! https://t.co/i9lPNa3F4w
— Win Without War (@WinWithoutWar) July 13, 2020
"Pandemic, economic collapse, and national uprisings against police violence and systemic white supremacy have laid bare the disconnect between our priorities and the resources they receive," said Win Without War. "It's time to cut the Pentagon budget and redirect those funds to critically needed social services."