Brief

Pocan and Lee lead push to cut Pentagon spending

By: - June 14, 2022 5:13 am
Army woman and man in uniform doing pushups

Army woman and man doing pushups | Getty Images

Legislation has been introduced by Wisconsin Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Black Earth) and California Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Oakland) aimed at cutting $100 billion from the country’s defense budget. The lawmakers, who serve as co-chairs of the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus, are proposing the legislation as a move to put the needs of people over the needs of the Pentagon.

Pocan noted that the Pentagon’s budget has continued to grow, “even as our forever wars have finally wound down.” He added that, “the United States spends more on defense than the next nine countries combined and cutting it by $100 billion will still keep the United States safe at the top spot. The amount of money the defense industry convinces Congress to spend each year doesn’t protect us from real threats like climate change, pandemics, or cyber-attacks. It only lines contractors’ pockets. Just imagine for once if we led the world in funding peace and not wars.”

A period of reflection has seemingly followed the end of 21 years of American occupation in Afghanistan, where the American-trained, equipped and funded Afghani military fell to the Taliban, which has assumed a firm, if uneasy, grip on government and everyday life.

As of June 1, the United States had provided over $5.3 billion in support to Ukraine to resist the Russian invasion. Over 1,400 Stinger anti-aircraft systems, more than 6,500 Javelin anti-armor rockets, over 7,000 small arms, and numerous other provisions have been sent to the embattled country. Meanwhile, American troops are still operating in Iraq, where they have come under fire this year. U.S. troops also recently redeployed to Somalia with a strength of 500. They represent an ever-growing American military presence across the African continent.

“For far too long, this country has put profits ahead of its people,” said Congresswoman Lee. “Nowhere is that more apparent than in our Pentagon topline budget.” Lee recalled the battles over Build Back Better, as a $782 billion defense budget was approved — an amount “higher than the military ever requested,” Lee noted. “Meanwhile, our constituents continue to struggle with the cost of living and barriers to basic needs like housing and healthcare. It is time that we realign our priorities to reflect the urgent needs of communities across this country that are healing from a pandemic, ongoing economic insecurity, and an international energy crisis—none of which will be resolved through greater military spending. Taking this step to downsize our military budget by $100 billion will ensure that our national security truly centers on the American people, not weapons industry profits.”

Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, echoed the two lawmakers. “With U.S. military spending totaling more than China and the next eight biggest military spenders combined, the Lee-Pocan bill will reclaim $100 billion in Pentagon spending and free it to be reallocated to domestic and human needs priorities.”

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Isiah Holmes
Isiah Holmes

Isiah Holmes is a journalist and videographer, and a lifelong resident of Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Holmes' video work dates back to his high school days at Wauwatosa East High, when he made a documentary about the local police department. Since then, his writing has been featured in Urban Milwaukee, Isthmus, Milwaukee Stories, Milwaukee Neighborhood News Services, Pontiac Tribune, the Progressive Magazine, Al Jazeera, and other outlets. He was also featured in the 2018 documentary The Chase Key, and was the recipient of the Sierra Club Great Waters Group 2021 Environmental Hero of the Year award. The Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council also awarded Holmes its 2021-2022 Media Openness Award for using the open records laws for investigative journalism. Holmes was also a finalist in the 2021 Milwaukee Press Club Excellence in Journalism Awards alongside the rest of the Wisconsin Examiner's staff. The Silver, or second place, award for Best Online Coverage of News was awarded to Holmes and his colleague Henry Redman for an investigative series into how police responded to the civil unrest and protests in Kenosha during 2020. Holmes was also awarded the Press Club's Silver (second-place) award for Public Service Journalism for articles focusing on police surveillance in Wisconsin.

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