Many of my colleagues tell the American people, day after day, how deeply concerned they are about the deficit and the national debt. They tell us that we just don’t have enough money to expand Medicare, guarantee paid family and medical leave, and address the climate crisis to the degree that we should if we want to protect the well-being of future generations. Yet, soon, the U.S. Senate will be voting on an annual defense budget that costs $778 billion – $37 billion more than President Trump’s last defense budget and $25 billion more than what President Biden requested.
All this for an agency, the Department of Defense, that continues to have massive fraud and cost overruns year after year and is the only major government agency not to successfully complete an independent audit. Isn’t it strange how even as we end the longest war in our nation’s history concerns about the deficit and national debt seem to melt away under the influence of the powerful Military Industrial Complex?
Further, it is likely that the Senate leadership will attach to the National Defense Authorization Act the so-called ‘competitiveness bill,’ which includes $52 billion in corporate welfare, with no strings attached, for a handful of extremely profitable microchip companies. This bill also contains a $10 billion handout to Jeff Bezos for space exploration.
Combining these two pieces of legislation would push the price tag of the defense bill to over $1 trillion – with very little scrutiny. Meanwhile, the Senate has spent month after month discussing the Build Back Better Act and whether we can afford to protect the children, the elderly, the sick, the poor and the future of our planet. As a nation, we need to get our priorities right. I will vote ‘NO’ on the National Defense Authorization Act.