Reps. Lee, Pocan want to exact the largest single-year budget cut in DoD history
Reps Barbara Lee (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.) introduced a bill Monday that would cut $100 billion from the defense budget — the largest single-year budget cut in Pentagon history.
The text of the proposed People Over Pentagon Act says “many of the most urgent threats to the United States are not military in nature,” and argues that Americans would be safer if this money was used to pay for major domestic projects.
“It is time that we realign our priorities [to] reflect the urgent needs of communities across the country that are healing from a pandemic, reeling from ongoing economic insecurity, and confronting an international energy crisis, none of which will be addressed by more military spending,” Lee and Pocan wrote in a letter to other members of Congress.
The representatives added that the government’s budget has long “put profits over people,” arguing that “[n]owhere is that more apparent than in our Pentagon topline.”
Lee and Pocan offered a range of ways to spend the $100 billion, claiming it could be used to create over one million green jobs or to provide healthcare for more than 28 million people. They added that the priority shift would “ensure that our concept of national security centers our people and builds upon our strengths as a nation.”
This messaging could help build support among Democratic colleagues, though some in the military restraint movement worry it could alienate fiscal conservatives who have called for less defense spending but are skeptical about investing in progressive priorities.
Notably, the bill would not try to save money by firing Pentagon employees or cutting their benefits. Instead, the Pentagon would follow a recent Congressional Budget Office report that lays out how America could maintain a strong defense strategy for a lot less money.
The proposal is nothing new for Lee and Pocan, who have pitched major Pentagon spending cuts several times in recent years. If their prior attempts are any indication, the bill is unlikely to become law. But advocates say that attention-grabbing proposals like this provide important opportunities to convince the public that defense spending may not be the best way to keep Americans safe.