With the House and Senate both expected to vote Tuesday on a popular proposal to cut the U.S. military budget by 10% and invest the savings in programs to help impoverished communities, anti-war advocacy groups urged Americans to immediately call their representatives and demand they choose "people over Pentagon" by voting yes.
The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for fiscal year 2021 calls for a $74 billion cut to the bill's proposed $740.5 billion military budget. The proposal is co-sponsored by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.) in the Senate and Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) in the House.
"In a moment of pandemic and urgent protest, we refuse to let Congress put defense contractors over peoples' needs," Win Without War said Tuesday. "Your senators need to hear from you—we won't allow them to continue funding the Pentagon's destructive militarism over our communities any longer."
In a letter (pdf) to members of the House on Monday, Win Without War and nearly 30 other organizations urged passage of the Lee-Pocan amendment.
"The Covid-19 pandemic makes clear that for too long, we have invested in the wrong priorities and tools to achieve true security for all the people of this nation," the letter reads.
— Win Without War (@WinWithoutWar) July 21, 2020
New polling released Monday by Data for Progress, a progressive think tank and policy shop, showed that 56% of American voters support slashing the Pentagon budget by 10% in order to help "pay for other needs like fighting the coronavirus, education, healthcare, and housing."
In a speech in support of his amendment on the House floor Monday, Pocan—co-chair of the Congressional Progressive Caucus (CPC)—said the U.S. has "not kept up with our needs like healthcare, education, and, of course, fighting the coronavirus." On Sunday, the 95-member CPC announced it will formally oppose the NDAA if the proposed $740.5 in military spending is not reduced.
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"We are literally flushing money down a drain—and I mean literally," said Pocan. "Due to the design flaw in the new $13 billion Ford-class aircraft carrier, we are spending $400,000 on specialized acids every time we have to flush and unclog the toilets. I'm not making this up."
The Pentagon's budget has spent:
Billions on an amphibious vehicle that sinks due to its own weight
$10,000 toilet seat covers
$400,000 special acids to flush & unclog toilets
Not to mention, billions in defense contractor profits.
It's time to cut the defense budget. pic.twitter.com/SuofvatmbS
— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) July 20, 2020
It is unclear whether the amendment will receive adequate support to pass either the Democrat-controlled House or the Republican-controlled Senate. According to a running list compiled by Win Without War, just four senators and 33 members of the House have committed to voting yes on the proposal.
Earlier this month, as Common Dreams reported, advocacy groups urged other senators to follow suit after Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) announced his support for the Sanders-Markey amendment. But Schumer was the last senator to publicly endorse the proposal.
A coalition of 61 progressive advocacy groups representing millions of people across the U.S. sent letters to senators last month urging passage of the Sanders-Markey amendment, writing that "our militarism budget is out of control."
"My Senate colleagues have a fundamental choice," Sanders tweeted Monday. "Vote to spend more money on endless wars while failing to provide economic security to millions of Americans. Or vote to spend less on weapons and cost overruns, and more to rebuild struggling communities in their home states."