WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wisc.) today introduced the People Over Pentagon Act of 2022, which would cut $100 billion from the current defense topline to help realign national spending priorities. The legislation’s aim is twofold: to divert funding away from excessive spending on weapons, war, and waste at the Pentagon and free up funding for human needs programs that are underfunded or unfunded altogether.
“The Pentagon budget is racing toward $1 trillion annually, while free school lunch programs for 10 million children are set to expire in a few weeks. We’re told there’s not money to feed the hungry, care for the sick, cut child poverty or protect the planet, even while Congress throws hundreds and hundreds of billions at a Pentagon that can’t even pass an audit,” said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen. “There’s no shortage of money to attend to domestic and human needs priorities. The Lee-Pocan bill to reclaim $100 billion in outsized military spending shows where the money is and couldn’t be timelier.”
This historic legislation is the first of its kind and builds on the successes of progressive advocates, lawmakers, and organizations who in recent years have called to reallocate spending away from the three-quarters-of-a-trillion-dollar Pentagon budget to meet true human needs: funding additional COVID-19 pandemic relief, investments in a just climate transition, and the child care, health care, and education provisions in Build Back Better.
“The Coalition on Human Needs applauds Reps. Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan for introducing the People Over Pentagon Act of 2022,” said Deborah Weinstein, executive director at the Coalition on Human Needs. “Coalition on Human Needs strongly supports the People Over Pentagon Act of 2022 that targets waste in the Pentagon while protecting military health care and soldier salaries. The bill recognizes that meeting the critical needs of people is essential to the national security of our nation.”
“It’s past time that Congress prioritizes the needs of everyday people over wasteful Pentagon spending by rejecting the pathology of endless wars and fossil fuel addiction,” said Gaurav Madan, senior campaigner at Friends of the Earth U.S. “Cutting the military budget would allow for necessary investments in climate change adaptation and mitigation efforts and a swift transition away from fossil fuels. As our country struggles to reckon with an epidemic of violence, demilitarization is an important step toward protecting peoples’ and planetary health.”
“At a time when Congress should be working around the clock to lower costs for people, the last thing it should do is continue to line the pockets of rich defense contractors,” said Rahna Epting, executive director at MoveOn. “How come when it comes to funding the Pentagon, no one asks how are we going to pay for it, but when it comes to funding health care, suddenly the government is poor? We applaud Reps. Lee and Pocan for their steadfast leadership on this.”
“The Pentagon budget has skyrocketed in recent years,” said Lindsay Koshgarian, program director at the National Priorities Project. “Pentagon contractors have been the first to benefit, while urgent needs in this country go unmet. Cutting $100 billion from the Pentagon budget would rein in the price-gouging contractors and put money back into our communities where it’s most needed.”
“As an organization deeply concerned about the nation’s fiscal trajectory, NTU strongly believes that no area of the federal budget should be spared an in-depth discussion about spending reductions and fundamental reform,” said Pete Sepp, president at National Taxpayers Union. “For these reasons, the ambitious legislation from Reps. Lee and Pocan to adjust the Pentagon’s budget is an important contribution to the debate over the most difficult fiscal task of our time – restoring responsibility to federal finances.”
“The People Over Pentagon Act of 2022 would significantly cut the Pentagon budget while protecting funding for the defense health program and military personnel,” said Danielle Brian, executive director at Project On Government Oversight. “The proposal is a measured and sensible response to continued and unfettered financial mismanagement at the Pentagon, which has never passed a comprehensive financial audit. POGO applauds Reps. Lee and Pocan for taking action to protect taxpayer dollars from waste and abuse at the Pentagon. Cutting its budget also would increase military readiness by encouraging the Pentagon to pursue simpler, more effective weapon systems at a lower cost. Congress must hold the Pentagon accountable for decades of financial mismanagement and weapon acquisition failures.”
“Congress is marching toward a trillion-dollar Pentagon budget, when it can’t even appropriate one-thousandth of that figure to help fund a global COVID vaccination drive,” said Eric Eikenberry, government relations director at Win Without War. “Cutting $100 billion from the Pentagon may seem dramatic, but frankly, it frees up the bare minimum needed for a down payment to address the social and political inequalities and crises that are a clear and pressing threat to our democracy.”
“This heroic effort, led by Rep. Barbara Lee, a tenacious alumna of WAND’s Women Legislators’ Lobby (WiLL), and Rep. Mark Pocan, is a necessary step to achieving a nonviolent U.S. foreign policy,” said Nancy Parrish, executive director at Women’s Action for New Directions. “For too long, the U.S. has funneled billions of taxpayer dollars into the pockets of for-profit defense contractors, supersizing the Pentagon budget while other agencies vie for the leftovers. It’s high time for Congress to hold the Pentagon accountable and reallocate a massive slice to addressing the needs of our people, including by feeding hungry children, investing in education, and addressing the climate crisis.”