U.S. Reps. Mark Pocan (D-WI) and Barbara Lee (D-CA) introduced the People Over Pentagon Act this week, which seeks a $100 billion cut from the defense budget.
“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,” Pocan said. “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.”
The Pentagon’s budget is an item that, regardless of the party in power, tends to grow year after year. Lee pointed out that Congress approved a $782 billion defense budget last year – a figure higher than the military requested – even while rejecting social initiatives like President Joe Biden’s Build Back Better program. According to Lee, it’s a sign of profits being put consistently ahead of people.
“Meanwhile, our constituents continue to struggle with the cost of living and barriers to basic needs like housing and health care,” Lee said. “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.”
The bill specifically prohibits any of the $100 billion in proposed cuts to come from the Defense Health Program, military personnel accounts, or accounts providing for pay and benefits of those in the civil service. Cut funding would instead flow to domestic and human needs priorities.
“The Lee-Pocan bill disproves the claim that there’s not money to feed the hungry, care for the sick, cut child poverty or protect the planet,” Robert Weissman, president of nonprofit consumer advocacy organization Public Citizen, said.