No Pentagon Spending Add-Ins in the Eleventh Hour, Urge Civil Society Groups

WASHINGTON, D.C. — The U.S. Senate is poised this week to consider the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2022 (NDAA) which would authorize a whopping $780 billion in military spending. U.S. Sen. Roger Wicker (R-Miss.) has introduced an amendment to increase spending even further by tacking on an additional $25 billion to the military budget. The NDAA already includes a $25 billion spending hike above the level requested by President Joe Biden. By contrast, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) has proposed an amendment to strip out the increase and restore the military budget back to the level requested by Biden. 

In response, leading civil society organizations denounced the Wicker proposal and urged senators to support the Sanders cut amendment:

“Attempting to stuff an additional $50 billion, more funding than the agency itself requested, into a Pentagon budget that is already three quarters of a trillion dollars is shameful, unjustifiable and embarrassing. Congress must resist the demands of the military-industrial complex, and instead heed calls to invest taxpayer dollars into true human needs like supporting global COVID-19 vaccine production, expanding healthcare access, and funding climate justice initiatives. ”

 – Savannah Wooten, #PeopleOverPentagon Campaign Coordinator, Public Citizen 

“As the pandemic rages, as the rift between rich and poor widens, as the existential threat of the climate crisis looms, the Senate is preparing to spend over three quarters of a trillion dollars fueling its addiction to warmaking. Senator Wicker’s proposal to add $25 billion on top of this already obscene budget may please arms industry lobbyists, but it leaves everyday people out in the cold. It’s time to fix our broken budget priorities, and start putting human needs over Pentagon greed — and the Senate can start by passing Senator Sanders’ amendment to cut the topline budget by at least 10%.”

Erica Fein, Senior Washington Director at Win Without War

“We’ve had enough of ever-increasing military budgets from lawmakers who won’t support basics like infrastructure, early childhood education, and dental care for our elders. The Wicker amendment is a shameful grab for another $25 billion, on top of the $37 billion that the administration and Congress have already added to the military budget. But there’s another option. Senator Sanders’ proposed modest cuts would begin to impose some limits on Pentagon spending for the first time in years.”

 – Lindsay Koshgarian, Program Director, National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies

“There is no justification for Congress to further increase spending on weapons and war while cutting potential investments in human needs. FCNL welcomes amendments which aim to rein in this dangerous pattern of wasteful Pentagon spending.” 

Allen Hester, Legislative Representative on Nuclear Disarmament & Pentagon Spending, Friends Committee on National Legislation

“Senator Sanders is to be applauded for announcing his plan to vote no on this monstrosity of a bill, something not one single member of the House did. Rather than another increase by Congress or the previous increase by Congress or the one before that by the White House, we desperately need a major decrease in military spending, an investment in human and environmental needs, economic conversion for workers in the war industries, and a kickstart to a reverse arms race.” 

David Swanson, Executive Director, World BEYOND War

“Senators already increased the defense topline by $25 billion earlier this year, going against the request of top civilian officials at the Department of Defense. They could have chosen to direct that $25 billion to naval shipyards, and they did not. Lawmakers shouldn’t add yet another $25 billion to the defense budget during NDAA debate. The SHIPYARD Act in particular is irresponsible, and would give the Navy a huge pot of money with little accountability and oversight of how the money is spent. Taxpayer dollars are at risk with this proposal.” 

Andrew Lautz, Director of Federal Policy, National Taxpayers Union

“How can we even consider allocating a sum of this magnitude to the Pentagon when our country is facing severe challenges around climate change, systemic racial oppression, growing economic inequality and the ongoing pandemic? We know that a significant portion of this money will end up in the coffers of arms manufacturers and dealers where it will contribute nothing to the security of our country or world peace.” 

Sister Karen Donahue, RSM, Sisters of Mercy of the Americas Justice Team

“Just one week after climate and peace activists gathered in Glasgow to demand that global leaders take bold climate action by measuring military greenhouse gas emissions, our Senators are considering approving a whopping $800 billion Pentagon budget. Instead of taking the ongoing climate emergency seriously, the U.S. is using the threat of climate change to legitimize spending even more on the Pentagon, which has the largest carbon and greenhouse gas footprint of any organization in the world. To add fuel to this dangerous fire, this $60+ billion increase in military spending will greatly escalate the United States’ hybrid war on China, and in doing so, sabotage efforts for mutual cooperation with China on existential crises like nuclear proliferation and climate change mitigation.” 

Carley Towne, CODEPINK National Co-Director 

“It is well beyond time to hold the Pentagon accountable for its massive waste, fraud, and abuse. For the first time in decades, the U.S. is out of war, and yet Congress continues to raise the Pentagon budget, regardless of the fact that the Pentagon continues to fail to pass an audit. As our communities struggle to make ends meet, arms manufacturers and military contractors are getting richer and richer. We urge Congress to reject efforts to increase the military budget beyond President Biden’s request, and to instead support measures to rein in the out of control Pentagon budget.” 

Mac Hamilton, Women’s Action for New Directions (WAND) Advocacy Director

“Military spending is out of control, while countless domestic needs go unmet. The runaway train of Pentagon largesse is wasteful and destructive. Sanders is trying to bring some sanity to an unhinged status quo.” 

Norman Solomon, National Director, RootsAction.org

“As the Senate deliberates on the NDAA, there is urgent need to dramatically cut the bloated Pentagon budget. Our nation’s priorities, as reflected in the federal budget, are seriously misplaced.  We need to unmask the role of private military contractors, with large teams of lobbyists, who benefit from the scandalous amount of our nation’s treasury spent on weapons systems. Instead, we need to reclaim what it means to be “strong” as a country, and shift resources to respond to the existential threats from climate change, inequality and the pandemic.”

Johnny Zokovitch, Executive Director, Pax Christi USA