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Reps. Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan Introduce People Over Pentagon Act, Call for $100 billion cuts to U.S. Military Budget

On June 16, the Senate Armed Services Committee egregiously voted in a bipartisan manner to add an additional $45 billion to the already $813 billion defense budget request from President Biden. Then, last week the House Armed Services Committee followed suit — from a proposal from Democratic Rep. Jared Golden — and voted in a bipartisan manner to add $37 billion to the defense budget. These votes are absolutely unconscionable. The government refuses to adequately address the proximate security concerns of American taxpayers — like climate change, racism, education, lack of access to health care and housing, food insecurity, and so much more — while funneling valuable taxpayer dollars to the pockets of defense companies. However, Reps. Barbara Lee and Mark Pocan have proposed a new bill that would begin to rein in unchecked military spending.

Following data from a report released by the Congressional Budget Office, the People Over Pentagon Act calls for a $100 billion cut to the Pentagon budget, a cut that would not hinder U.S. military readiness. While this is not nearly enough to realign our nation’s priorities to center the people, not the military, it is a significant start considering both Republicans and Democrats continue to increase the Pentagon budget year after year without a second thought.

More importantly, this bill declares that the funds taken from the military should be disbursed to social programs that would materially improve the security and living conditions for millions of Americans. Both Reps. Lee and Pocan understand the dire need to reinvest in our communities.

Rep. Lee called out the intense gutting of the Build Back Better Act by Congress, while that same Congress then agreed to dole out the highest military budget in U.S. history. “Just last year, key priorities like Build Back Better were left on the negotiating table, while Congress approved a $782 billion defense budget—higher than the military even requested. Meanwhile, our constituents continue to struggle with the cost of living and barriers to basic needs like housing and health care. 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.”

Rep. Pocan further highlighted our government’s mismanaged priorities. “The Pentagon’s budget continues to grow year after year, even as our forever wars have finally wound down. “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.”

PSR is in full support of the People Over Pentagon Act. It is past time that our government sheds this two-dimensional understanding of security as overinflating our military budget while our communities bleed dry of all resources. This cannot continue any longer. Join PSR, Reps. Lee and Pocan, and countless others to demand that our government actually start putting the people over the Pentagon.

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