News Release

Move to Trim Military Budget by Ten Percent Thwarted

ASHIK SIDDIQUE, asiddique at nationalpriorites.org, @natpriorities
Siddique is a researcher focused on the federal budget and military spending with the National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies. He recently wrote the piece “Americans Want to Reinvest Ten Percent of the Military Budget Against Coronavirus.”

CommonDreams reports: “Sens. Elizabeth Warren and Kamala Harris, two leading contenders for the 2020 Democratic vice presidential nomination, voted opposite ways Wednesday on an amendment” to reduce the Pentagon budget by 10 percent and “invest the savings in healthcare, housing, and education in impoverished U.S. communities. The amendment, led by Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Ed Markey (D-Mass.), was defeated by a margin of 23-77, with 24 Democratic senators voting no.” A similar vote in the House was defeated 93-324. See piece in Sludge noting that Democrats who voted against the Pentagon cuts got 3.4 times more money from military contractors than those who didn’t.

Siddique said today: “It’s disappointing that majorities of the House and Senate voted this week against something as sensible as redirecting 10 percent of the bloated $740 billion Pentagon budget, which is unaccountably wasteful and enables the harmful and reckless use of U.S. military force in ways that make the whole world less safe. A new poll shows that a majority of Americans support this shift, including half of Republican voters.

“74 billion dollars could disappear from the Pentagon budget and barely be noticed by most current military operations, but would make a massive difference to any number of social priorities that currently receive fractions of military funding — especially during an ongoing pandemic and intensifying economic crisis.

“We’ve laid out some incredible trade-offs for $74 billion, including ending homelessness, deploying enough renewable energy to power almost every household in the country, closing the racial funding gap for public schools, or giving every American six free COVID tests to help contain the pandemic over the next year.

“But this is the first time in decades that Congress has seriously considered reinvesting away from the Pentagon budget, and it’s important to note how quickly the political landscape is shifting around this issue. Just a few years ago, it would have been hard to imagine getting even 93 votes in the House and 23 in the Senate — or nearly 40 to 50 percent of the Democratic Caucus — to cut military spending by 10 percent, as they did this time.

“That sets up a much stronger baseline to work from next year — especially since the budget caps put in place by the Budget Control Act of 2011 will expire, giving Americans the chance to more deeply transform this country’s militarized agenda in a way that has not been on the table for decades.”