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Chairman McGovern Urges Reduction in Pentagon Spending as National Defense Reauthorization Act is Brought to the House Floor

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Washington, July 20, 2020 | comments
WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) spoke on the House Floor urging passage of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would authorize a 10% reduction in Pentagon spending.
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WASHINGTON, D.C. — Today, Rules Committee Chairman James P. McGovern (D-MA) spoke on the House Floor urging passage of an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) which would authorize a 10% reduction in Pentagon spending.
 
Since the start of the Trump administration, defense spending has increased almost 20% in just three years, for a total increase of over $100 billion dollars. Last year’s NDAA authorized $738 billion in defense spending for FY20, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) got 1/90th of that: less than $8 billion.
 
As Chairman of the Rules Committee, McGovern made the amendment in order for floor debate. He has been a longtime champion of redirecting Pentagon funding toward domestic priorities.
 
McGovern’s remarks, as delivered, are below. Video of his speech is available here.

Mr. Speaker, I want to thank the distinguished member of the Rules Committee, Mr. Perlmutter, for yielding me the time. 

I also want to associate myself with the comments of all my colleagues who have remembered our dear friend, John Lewis.

The conscience of the Congress, and indeed the conscience of the country.

John Lewis was a man of action who never gave up on fighting for a more just, fair, and decent country. I think all off us can pay tribute to him not just with words, but with actions.
 
Mr. Speaker, there are a lot of good ideas being considered as part of this debate. And there will be a lot of debate in the coming days. I want to discuss one in particular here today: an amendment by my colleagues, Mark Pocan and Barbara Lee. 
 
Because of their leadership, Congress will finally vote on whether to cut the Pentagon’s bloated budget and reinvest that money in the American people here at home. 
 
All I can say is, it’s about damn time.
 
COVID-19 has laid bare our nation’s failure to invest in programs that support our families and keep them healthy.
 
But this debate was needed long before this pandemic hit.
 
Because for years and years, we have been told there simply isn’t enough money to invest in our communities. 
 
In universal childcare; Medicare for All; or repairing our crumbling infrastructure.   
 
We have been told that a Green New Deal is too expensive, and that it’s unreasonable to ask to cancel crushing student loan debt.
 
But there was always enough money lying around to raise the Pentagon’s budget.
 
Decade after decade after decade, we short-changed the American people – while we shoveled more money into building more nukes or more military bases overseas. 
 
And Mr. Speaker, I am sick and tired of it. 
 
This amendment is the least – and I mean the least – we can do. 
 
Since the start of the Trump Administration, in just the last 3 years, our defense spending has gone up every single year—over $100 billion in total.
 
That’s crazy! 
 
Don’t misunderstand me, Mr. Speaker. I support our troops. 
 
And this amendment exempts from cuts military personnel, defense health care and our federal civilian workforce.
 
But I do not support military spending so wasteful that it weakens our nation. 
 
I don’t support Congress funding weapons our troops don’t want and I don’t support Congress funding forever wars our country shouldn’t even be involved in.
 
For me, this all boils down to a simple question, Mr. Speaker: what do we mean by national security?
 
Some here in Washington think our national security ought to be measured solely by the number of bombs we have.
 
But those of us who support his amendment think our national security must also be measured by the prosperity of our people. 
 
By whether our families have enough money to buy groceries;
 
And whether we’re investing in our schools, our libraries, our roads;
 
And all the things that strengthen our communities. 
 
If we continue failing to invest in our people, what kind of country will be left for our military to defend 20, 40, or 60 years down the road?
 
What will we tell our children and their children when our military budgets continues to balloon, yet our citizens cannot afford even the most basic necessities?
 
Budgets are moral documents, Mr. Speaker. They represent our values and what we think is important.
 
It is time for America to do the right thing and fundamentally alter our national priorities. That is what this proposal is all about.
 
I urge my colleagues to support this rule and this amendment when it comes up for a vote, and I yield back the balance of my time.
 
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