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Progressive lawmakers seek 10% cut to US defense budget

The Pentagon US Department of Defense (DoD/WikiCommons)
July 16, 2020

Sen. Minority Leader Chuck Schumer extended his support of Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) proposed amendment to cut 10% from the defense budget and reinvest the money in other areas, including housing and health care.

The amendment, which is guaranteed a floor vote during the week of July 20, would cut $74 billion from the annual National Defense Authorization Act, Nation of Change reported.

“Proud I fought alongside Sen. Sanders to ensure we vote in July on his amendment to cut $740 billion defense budget by 10% and put [money] into priorities like health care, housing, childcare in communities with 25%+ poverty—including many communities of color,” Schumer tweeted on Friday. “I proudly support the amendment.”

Cosponsored by Senators Ed Markey (D-Mass.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), and Representatives Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) and Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), the amendment would take the proposed $74 billion and use it to create a domestic federal grant program.

The Treasury Department would manage the grant to fund health care, housing, childcare, and educational opportunities for cities and towns experiencing a poverty rate of 25% or more.

“Let me thank Sen. Schumer for his support for my amendment to cut the bloated $740 billion Pentagon budget by 10% and invest $74 billion in communities that have been ravaged by extreme poverty and mass incarceration,” Sanders said via Twitter in response to Schumer’s support. “This amendment will begin to change our national priorities.”

Sanders also thanked Sen. Schumer for securing a vote on the amendment. “If there was ever a time to fundamentally change our national priorities, now is that time. Let’s cut the Pentagon budget and invest in healthcare and housing here at home,” Sanders tweeted.

More than 60 national organizations fighting for economic, environmental, racial justice and peace, including Greenpeace and MoveOn, wrote a letter in late June calling on other senators to co-sponsor Sanders’ amendment.

“Our militarism budget is out of control,” the letter asserted. “In 2019, the United States spent more money on our military than the next nine countries combined. The Department of Defense’s budget eclipses that of federal courts, education, the State Department, local economic development, public health and environmental protection combined, yet the Pentagon is incapable of passing a basic audit. We should no longer tolerate unchecked spending on systems that fuel violence and corporate greed at the expense of the basic needs of our people.”

In another letter from earlier this year, Representatives Pocan and Lee requested a reduction in defense spending, citing the coronavirus pandemic as the main reason for the requested cuts. The letter called for “a coronavirus cure, not more war” and “more testing, not more bombs.”