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Advocacy groups to Congress: Don’t militarize infrastructure bills

There are bipartisan efforts to sneak more money into the Pentagon’s already bloated and unaccounted for coffers.

Nearly 50 advocacy groups representing a wide array of issue areas — from faith-based to government oversight organizations — sent a letter on Thursday to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer advising them that adding additional money for the Pentagon any upcoming infrastructure legislation will do nothing to create jobs and modernize the U.S. economy, while making security challenges worse. 

The groups — including Public Citizen, the Sunrise Movement, and Demand Progress* — note that President Biden’s proposed Pentagon budget is already too high and that DOD has never passed an accounting audit. 

“We are a nation experiencing multiple crises,” they write. “We are recovering from a year of record unemployment and housing insecurity, reeling from the loss of loved ones, staggering under the weight of multiplying medical and student loan debt, confronting systemic racism and violent white nationalism, and combating the ongoing climate crisis. Militarized spending has not solved these problems, and in many ways has made them worse.”

The groups say that “​​[r]equests for additional Department of Defense spending have cropped up outside of the traditional budget authorization process, with legislators on both sides of the aisle attempting to tuck pet projects into the large-scale spending package.”

And this wouldn’t be the first time in the past year that the military industrial complex has benefited from unrelated spending. Last September, DOD funnelled most of the $1 billion Congress allocated for COVID relief to defense contractors, which were then used to, as the Washington Post reported at the time, “make things such as jet engine parts, body armor and dress uniforms.”

“[T]o add Pentagon pork to an initiative meant for the prosperity and safety of our communities would be truly callous,” said Erica Fein, Senior Washington Director at Win Without War, a group that also signed the letter. “Dollar for dollar, more jobs are created when invested in sectors like clean energy and education than in defense spending.” 

*The Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft is also a signatory.

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