Around 30 Peace Action and CODEPINK advocates protested from noon to 1 PM on March 16 at the Annapolis office of Maryland Representative Anthony Brown, as he has tried to subvert the Iran Nuclear Deal. A request to his staff to come out for dialogue was ignored. If you want to see a photograph of the demo, let me know.
Also note that Brown did not sign on to the Slash the Pentagon budget letter. In fact only two of the seven House Democrats in Maryland signed on to the letter – Jamie Raskin and John Sarbanes. We must thank these two representatives and chastise the other five. And we must keep the pressure on Biden to make severe cuts in military spending so that tax dollars can go to efforts which are desperately needed – healthcare, climate chaos, infrastructure, education and other such programs. These are the programs which will provide us with real security.
Tuesday, March 16, 2021
50 House Democrats Demand Biden Slash Pentagon Budget to Invest in Public Health, Common Good
"The U.S.' budget priorities are dangerously out of whack," said Win Without War. "It's time to put them back in order."
Numerous progressive groups expressed support for a March 16, 2021 letter from 50 House Democrats calling on President Joe Biden to seek a reduction of the $740 billion Pentagon budget. (Image: Win Without War)
A broad range of progressive groups on Tuesday echoed 50 Democratic U.S. lawmakers who urged President Joe Biden to redirect government spending from wars and militarism to programs of social and ecological uplift by seeking to reduce the $740 billion Pentagon budget.
In a letter led by Reps. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), Mark Pocan (D-Wis.), and Jake Auchincloss (D-Mass.), and signed by 47 congressional Democrats, the lawmakers assert that "part of undoing the damage of the last four years is re-evaluating our spending priorities as a nation."
"That re-evaluation should begin with the Department of Defense," the letter states. "Hundreds of billions of dollars now directed to the military would have greater return if invested in diplomacy, humanitarian aid, global public health, sustainability initiatives, and basic research."
Noting that the U.S. "could cut the Pentagon budget by more than 10% and still spend more than the next 10 largest militaries combined," the letter urges Biden—whose fiscal year 2022 budget will reportedly request the same level of military spending as during former President Donald Trump's final year in office—to "seek a significantly reduced Pentagon topline."
"The United States' war on terror has lasted two decades and cost the U.S. approximately $6.4 trillion," the lawmakers write. "Our men and women in uniform have served bravely and honorably. Yet, the premise of a military-centric foreign policy is a failure. We must end the forever wars, heal our veterans, and re-orient towards a holistic conception of national security that centers public health, climate change, and human rights."
"You have spoken frequently about the need to not only reject the destruction of Trumpism, but to build things back better," the letter notes. "A broad cross-section of voters and organizations—including conservative, faith-based, and progressive groups—support responsible spending reductions at the Pentagon. The same voters who sent you to the White House on this promise sent us to Congress, expecting us to make this vision a reality and to chart a new course."
"Therefore, we strongly urge you to request a reduced Pentagon budget when you send your fiscal year 2022 budget to Congress," the lawmakers conclude.
In a statement promoting the letter, Lee—the only member of Congress at the time who opposed the 2001 U.S.-led invasion of Afghanistan—said that "as we face a global pandemic and unprecedented economic crisis, the needs of American families far outweigh the need to continue feeding our bloated military defense budget."
Pocan said that the coronavirus pandemic "has proven that American national security should not be defined by the number of nuclear weapons collecting dust in storage, but by healthcare security, job security, housing security—the security of working families surviving with a roof over their heads, food on the table, and money in the bank."
"We have a duty to invest in the American people more than we invest in defense contractor profits and Pentagon slush funds," he insisted.
Auchincloss, a former Marine, added that "you don't have to be a veteran to know that the defense budget is out of control when you have a trillion-dollar fighter jet that can't dogfight," a reference to the F-35, each of which costs well over $100 million.
Arguing that the "50 House lawmakers are right," the advocacy coalition Win Without War released a statement asserting that "against the backdrop of a devastating pandemic, global economic crisis, and looming climate catastrophe, it is more critical than ever that we end the failed mindset that has led us to funnel near-limitless funds into warmaking while ignoring the true threats to our security."
"The U.S.' budget priorities are dangerously out of whack," the group added. "It's time to put them back in order."
Robert Weissman, president of the consumer advocacy group Public Citizen, said in a statement that the coronavirus pandemic "has underscored how grotesquely bloated is our Pentagon budget and how spending on weapons does nothing to address many of the greatest national security risks."
"Now is the time to reverse course on the 'too much is never enough' approach to Pentagon spending and start redirecting some of that money into priority domestic and human needs," said Weissman.
Carley Towne, co-director of the women-led peace group CodePink and coordinator of the Defund the Pentagon campaign, said in a statement that "cutting the Pentagon budget and reinvesting in the needs of our communities is not only morally necessary, it's also urgent if we're going to address the biggest threat that faces our planet: climate change. The Pentagon is the world's single largest consumer of oil and one of the world's top greenhouse gas emitters."
"If we're going to take the future of our planet seriously," stressed Towne, "we need to cut the Pentagon budget now."
Our work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 License. Feel free to republish and share widely. 03.16.21
Lee, Pocan & Auchincloss Lead 50 Members Urging Biden to Cut Defense Budget
WASHINGTON, D.C.—Today, co-chairs of the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus, Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA), Mark Pocan (D-WI) as well as Marine veteran Representative Jake Auchincloss (D-MA9), led a letter of 50 colleagues to President Biden urging him to decrease the Pentagon’s budget in his forthcoming proposed budget for Fiscal Year 2022. Under Donald Trump, the defense budget ballooned to $740 billion—a more than 20% increase during his tenure. As over 535,000 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19, now is the time to show the American people that the Biden-Harris administration prioritizes their health, housing, education, and jobs over billions more towards forever wars abroad.
“As we face a global pandemic and unprecedented economic crisis, the needs of American families far outweigh the need to continue feeding our bloated military defense budget,” said Rep. Lee. “Analysis from experts across the political spectrum show that we can make significant cuts to our defense budget without compromising our national security or reducing the support, pay or benefits provided to our men and women in uniform and their families. This issue has broad based support from faith groups, conservatives and progressives alike. As Co-chairs of the Defense Spending Reduction Caucus, we are calling on the President to rebalance our priorities to build a safer, peaceful, and more prosperous world, at home and abroad.”
“We cannot build back better if the Pentagon’s budget remains just as large as it was under Donald Trump,” said Rep. Pocan. “This crisis has proven that American national security should not be defined by the number of nuclear weapons collecting dust in storage, but by healthcare security, job security, housing security—the security of working families surviving with a roof over their heads, food on the table and money in the bank. We have a duty to invest in the American people more than we invest in defense contractor profits and Pentagon slush funds.”
“As the United States pivots away from the failed forever wars, our generation needs to lay down a marker for the Pentagon” said Rep. Auchincloss. “We can defend America and protect the global commons without the Trump increases to the budget. You don’t have to be a veteran to know that the defense budget is out of control when you have a trillion-dollar fighter jet that can’t dogfight.”
Representatives Lee and Pocan previously led the National Defense Authorization Act amendment to cut the defense budget in the 116th Congress.
Representatives Nanette Diaz Barragán (D-CA), Earl Blumenauer (D-OR), Suzanne Bonamici (D-OR), Jamaal Bowman (D-NY), Cori Bush (D-MO), Judy Chu (D-CA), Steve Cohen (D-TN), Danny K. Davis (D-IL), Mark DeSaulnier (D-CA), Anna G. Eshoo (D-CA), Adriano Espaillat (D-NY), Jesús G. "Chuy" García (D-IL), Jimmy Gomez (D-CA), Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Alcee L. Hastings (D-FL), Jahana Hayes (D-CT), Jared Huffman (D-CA), Pramila Jayapal (D-WA), Henry C. "Hank" Johnson, Jr. (D-GA), Mondaire Jones (D-NY), Ro Khanna (D-CA), Daniel T. Kildee (D-MI), Andy Levin (D-MI), Zoe Lofgren (D-CA), Alan Lowenthal (D-CA), Carolyn B. Maloney (D-NY), James P. McGovern (D-MA), Grace Meng (D-NY), Gwen Moore (D-WI), Marie Newman (D-IL), Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-DC), Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY), Ilhan Omar (D-MN), Frank Pallone, Jr. (D-NJ), Katie Porter (D-CA), Ayanna Pressley (D-MA), Jamie Raskin (D-MD), Bobby L. Rush (D-IL), John P. Sarbanes (D-MD), Jan Schakowsky (D-IL), Mark Takano (D-CA), Rashida Tlaib (D-MI), Ritchie Torres (D-NY), Lori Trahan (D-MA), Nydia M. Velázquez (D-NY), Bonnie Watson Coleman (D-NJ), and Peter Welch (D-VT) also signed onto the letter.
Donations can be sent to Max Obuszewski, Baltimore Nonviolence Center, 431 Notre Dame Lane, Apt. 206, Baltimore, MD 21212. Ph: 410-323-1607; Email: mobuszewski2001 [at] comcast.net. Go to http://baltimorenonviolencecenter.blogspot.com/
"The master class has always declared the wars; the subject class has always fought the battles. The master class has had all to gain and nothing to lose, while the subject class has had nothing to gain and everything to lose--especially their lives." Eugene Victor Debs