Progressive Lawmakers Call for Pentagon Budget Cuts

Progressive Lawmakers Call for Pentagon Budget Cuts

Jason Reed/Reuters

A group of 29 liberal House Democrats wants to cut military spending, arguing that the money is better spent fighting the coronavirus pandemic.

“Congress must remain focused on responding to the coronavirus pandemic and distributing needed aid domestically,” the lawmakers wrote in a letter to the leaders of the House Armed Services Committee. “In order to do so, appropriators must have access to increased levels of non-defense spending which could be constrained by any increase to defense spending.”

The letter noted that U.S. military spending already outpaces that of the next 10 nations combined.

Why it matters: The liberals’ demand “stands to greatly complicate the Democratic-controlled House’s ability to advance the National Defense Authorization Act, one of the most consequential must-pass measures that Congress assembles each year,” writes Mike DeBonis at The Washington Post. Republicans and moderate Democrats aren’t likely to go along with defense budget cuts, so the question may be how far progressives want to push the issue and how willing they are to use their leverage. “With 29 signatures, the letter carries an implicit ultimatum,” DeBonis says: “Should Democratic leaders move forward with an outsize defense bill, they will need to do so with Republican votes. The signers could together block the bill from passage if the GOP unites against Democrats, as it did last year.”

Read more at The Washington Post or Politico.