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Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby appears at a briefing

Pentagon Press Secretary John Kirby appears at a briefing on January 28, 2021. (Photo: Yasin Ozturk/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images)

Groups Urge Voters to Call Lawmakers and Demand Cuts to Bloated Pentagon Budget

"We have an opportunity right now to cut the military's sky-high budget and invest in our communities," said the National Priorities Project.

Jake Johnson

Progressive campaigners on Wednesday urged members of the U.S. public to contact their representatives and demand their support for a pair of amendments that would reduce the country's military spending, a call that comes as the House is set to vote on legislation that would hand the Pentagon more than $800 billion in the coming fiscal year.

"Call your Representative directly TODAY, or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121."

"That's almost a trillion dollars—approaching the highest historical levels for U.S. military funding since World War II," the National Priorities Project (NPP) noted in an email. "That dwarfs spending on many other agencies responsible for social spending, combined."

NPP is calling on the House, narrowly controlled by Democrats, to attach two separate amendments to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), sprawling legislation that could receive a vote in the lower chamber as soon as this week.

The first amendment, led by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), would claw back the $37 billion that the House Armed Services Committee recently voted to add to President Joe Biden's historically high military budget request for fiscal year 2023.

In its current form, the NDAA topline is $839 billion—a figure that includes $808.4 billion for the Pentagon and $30.5 billion for the Department of Energy, which oversees the country's nuclear arsenal.

Lee and Pocan are also spearheading a second NDAA amendment that, if approved, would cut $100 billion from the current topline military spending level of $782 billion.

"Call your representative directly TODAY, or call the U.S. Capitol Switchboard at 202-224-3121," NPP wrote in its email. "Urge them to vote 'yes' on both amendments."

On Tuesday, the House Rules Committee agreed to allow the two Lee-Pocan amendments—along with hundreds of others—to receive votes on the House floor in the coming days.

Last year, as Common Dreams reported, similar efforts to rein in U.S. military spending during the NDAA process fell short as Republican and Democratic lawmakers—some funded by the weapons makers that benefit from ever-larger Pentagon budgets—teamed up to ensure their defeat.

But while progressives in Congress have yet to garner enough support from their colleagues to cut military spending, recent surveys indicate that their efforts are popular with the public.

A February poll showed that a majority of U.S. adults support cuts to military spending. Last month, the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen released a survey showing that 60% of likely voters want to keep military funding at the level Biden requested earlier this year.

"We have an opportunity right now to cut the military's sky-high budget and invest in our communities," NPP declared Wednesday, "but it can't happen without your help."

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