Bernie Sanders rejects Pentagon’s $ 778 billion budget vote
On Tuesday, on the eve of a likely US Senate vote on the National Defense Authorization Act of 2022, Senator Bernie Sanders said he would vote against the legislation because it enriches the military-industrial complex at the expense of desperately needed social and climate action programs.
“Meanwhile, the Senate has spent month after month discussing the Build Back Better Act and whether we can afford to protect children, the elderly, the sick, the poor and the future of our planet.
“Many of my colleagues tell the American people, day in and day out, how deeply they are concerned about the deficit and the national debt,” Sanders (I-Vt.) Said in a statement. “They tell us we just don’t have enough money to expand medicare, secure paid family and medical leave, and tackle the climate crisis to the extent that we should if we are to protect the well-being of future generations. “
“Yet tomorrow the US Senate will vote an annual defense budget that costs $ 778 billion, or $ 37 billion more than [former President Donald] Trump’s latest defense budget is $ 25 billion more than the president [Joe] Biden asked, ”he continued. “All of this for one agency, the Department of Defense, which continues to have massive frauds and cost overruns year after year and is the only major government agency not to pass an independent audit. “
“Isn’t it strange,” Sanders added, “how, even as we end the longest war in our country’s history, concerns about the deficit and the national debt seem to be melting away. influence of the powerful military-industrial complex? “
Sanders often Noted that the United States spends more on its military than the next 10 nations combined.
The NDAA is not a spending bill but rather a political measure; a separate appropriation bill is expected to be passed to implement the $ 37 billion increase.
In September, the House voted 316-113 to approve a $ 778 billion military budget for fiscal 2022. While every Republican lawmaker voted against a pair of amendments that would have slashed the Pentagon’s budget, their colleagues Democrats were also divided on the measures.
Common dreams reported that Democrats who voted against an amendment proposed by Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) to cut the military budget by 10% received, on average, nearly four times as many campaign contributions from manufacturers of weapons than their colleagues who voted for the measure.
While Sanders has faced backlash in Vermont and beyond for helping bring Lockheed Martin F-35 fighter jets – to $ 1.5 trillion, the country’s most expensive weapons program US history – in his home state, the Democratic Socialist has been a consistent voice in cutting military spending and calling for auditing the Pentagon and ending or avoiding wars abroad.
Sanders further criticized NDAA 2022 for an amendment – the U.S. Innovation and Competition Act – to counter the rise of China, as well as to contain “$ 52 billion in corporate welfare, no strings attached, for a handful of extremely profitable microchip companies. . “
“This bill also contains a $ 10 billion donation to Jeff Bezos for space exploration,” he noted, referring to the private orbital tourism company Blue Origin of the founder of Amazon.com. .
“The combination of these two laws would push the price of the defense bill up to over $ 1 trillion, with very little control,” Sanders continued. “Meanwhile, the Senate has spent month after month discussing the Build Back Better Act and whether we can afford to protect children, the elderly, the sick, the poor and the future of our planet.
“As a nation, we must define our priorities well,” he added. “I will vote ‘no’ on the National Defense Authorization Act.”