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Congress's Budget-Cutting Rhetoric Doesn't Match Votes on Pentagon Spending

WASHINGTON - While lawmakers talk about cutting spending, the record shows that they have failed to make real cuts within the federal government's biggest ticket discretionary spending area. That's military spending, including the costly wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. This is according to a peace and security performance report on the 2010 session of the 111th Congress, released jointly by Peace Action, the nation's largest foreign policy advocacy group, and its largest affiliate, Peace Action West.

In a year when many members of Congress campaigned on making draconian spending cuts to bring down the deficit, Congress passed more than $30 billion to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan, bringing the total cost of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan to $160 billion for 2010.

According to Rebecca Griffin, Peace Action West's Political Director, "That giant $160 billion pot of war funding is the first place Congress should have been looking for cuts. The war is not making Americans safer, and we're going deeper into debt to pay for it."

Additionally, one of the strongest examples of congressional support for military waste was the $485 million for the alternate engine program for the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. The Pentagon made it clear they didn’t want the funding because they had already hired another company to build an engine for the jet. Yet Rep. Chellie Pingree's (D-ME) amendment aimed at cutting it fell short by 38 votes.

"This $485 million was for a program that the Pentagon didn't need or want," said Paul Kawika Martin, Peace Action's Political Director. "But because Congress insisted the funding stay in, that's $485 million less we have to spend on education, health care, and real needs here at home. For instance, that money would cover a year's salary for 7200 elementary school teachers."

Rep. Pete Stark (D-CA-13), one of the few members of Congress to receive a 100% voting record, has a strong record of opposing wasteful military spending. In response to the report, he said, "I am proud of my record and honored to be recognized by Peace Action. With our nation involved in three ongoing wars, the work of Peace Action has never been more critical.  We need your grassroots advocacy for less military and more diplomacy."

Peace Action and Peace Action West's Congressional Voting Record for the 110th Congress is available for download here: http://www.peace-action.org/votingrecord.pdf

The groups jointly produce a report on congressional voting records on national security issues every year to inform the electorate.  Additionally, the groups use the information in deciding what candidates to endorse and provide contributions to their campaigns.

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Founded in 1957, Peace Action, the United States' largest peace and disarmament organization with over 100,000 members and nearly 100 chapters in 34 states, works to achieve the abolition of nuclear weapons, promote government spending priorities that support human needs and encourage real security through international cooperation and human rights.

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