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Pocan, Lee & Auchincloss Lead 50 Members Urging Biden to Cut Defense Budget

Mar 16, 2021
Press Release

WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, co-chairs of the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus, Representatives Mark Pocan (D-WI) & Barbara Lee (D-CA), as well as Marine veteran Representative Jake Auchincloss (D-MA) led a letter of 50 colleagues to President Biden urging him to decrease the Pentagon’s budget in his forthcoming proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022. Under Donald Trump, the defense budget ballooned to $740 billion—a more than 20% increase during his tenure. As over 535,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19, now is the time to show the American people that the Biden-Harris administration prioritizes their health, housing, education, and jobs over billions more towards forever wars abroad.

“We cannot build back better if the Pentagon’s budget remains just as large as it was under Donald Trump,” said Rep. Pocan. “This crisis has proven that American national security should not be defined by the number of nuclear weapons collecting dust in storage, but by healthcare security, job security, housing security—the security of working families surviving with a roof over their heads, food on the table and money in the bank. We have a duty to invest in the American people more than we invest in defense contractor profits and Pentagon slush funds.”

“As we face a global pandemic and unprecedented economic crisis, the needs of American families far outweigh the need to continue feeding our bloated military defense budget,” said Rep. Lee. “Analysis from experts across the political spectrum show that we can make significant cuts to our defense budget without compromising our national security or reducing the support, pay or benefits provided to our men and women in uniform and their families. This issue has broad based support from faith groups, conservatives and progressives alike. As Co-chairs of the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus, we are calling on the President to rebalance our priorities to build a safer, peaceful, and more prosperous world, at home and abroad.”

“As the United States pivots away from the failed forever wars, our generation needs to lay down a marker for the Pentagon” said Rep. Auchincloss. “We can defend America and protect the global commons without the Trump increases to the budget. You don’t have to be a veteran to know that the defense budget is out of control when you have a trillion-dollar fighter jet that can’t dogfight.”

Representatives Lee and Pocan previously led the National Defense Authorization Act amendment to cut the defense budget in the 116th Congress.

Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), Judy Chu (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (D-IL), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Daniel T. Kildee (D-MI), Andy Levin (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Marie Newman (D-IL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Katie Porter (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), John P. Sarbanes (D-MD), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Mark Takano (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Peter Welch (D-VT) also signed onto the letter.

See the full letter below and here.


March 16, 2021

 

President Joseph R. Biden

The White House

1600 Pennsylvania Avenue NW

Washington, DC 20500

 

Dear President Biden:

 

As Members of the United States Congress sent to Washington by voters urging us to rebuke the values of the Trump Administration, we are eager to work with you to fulfill that mandate.

Our federal budget is a statement of our national values, and part of undoing the damage of the last four years is re-evaluating our spending priorities as a nation. That re-evaluation should begin with the Department of Defense. Hundreds of billions of dollars now directed to the military would have greater return if invested in diplomacy, humanitarian aid, global public health, sustainability initiatives, and basic research.

Recent reporting indicates that your first budget request to Congress will recommend the same level of Pentagon spending as the last fiscal year. While we are heartened that your Administration is not contemplating expanding the Pentagon’s already inflated budget, our new Democratic majorities in Congress along with your Administration should go further. Rather than requesting a flat Pentagon budget, we urge you to seek a significantly reduced Pentagon topline.  Thoughtful analysis from experts across the political spectrum shows that significant cuts can be achieved without reducing the support, pay or benefits provided to our men and women in uniform and their families.  We could cut the Pentagon budget by more than ten percent and still spend more than the next ten largest militaries combined. 

The United States’ war on terror has lasted two decades and cost the U.S. approximately $6.4 trillion. Our men and women in uniform have served bravely and honorably. Yet, the premise of a military-centric foreign policy is a failure. We must end the forever wars, heal our veterans, and re-orient towards a holistic conception of national security that centers public health, climate change, and human rights.

You have spoken frequently about the need to not only reject the destruction of Trumpism, but to build things back better. A broad cross-section of voters and organizations, including conservative, faith-based and progressive groups, support responsible spending reductions at the Pentagon. The same voters who sent you to the White House on this promise sent us to Congress, expecting us to make this vision a reality and to chart a new course. Therefore, we strongly urge you to request a reduced Pentagon budget when you send your Fiscal Year 2022 budget to Congress.

Thank you for the consideration of this request, and we look forward to working with your Administration to implement the changes Americans expect from our leadership.

 

Sincerely,

Barbara Lee 

Member of Congress 

 

Mark Pocan 

Member of Congress

 

Jake Auchincloss 

Member of Congress