People Over Pentagon: Cutting the Bloated Pentagon Budget 2024

People Over Pentagon: Cutting the Bloated Pentagon Budget 2024

The long-entrenched Congressional/Military/Media/Industrial complex — combined with fears around Russian aggression after their February 2022 invasion of Ukraine, as well as a growing hawkish narrative about China’s rise — continues to increase Pentagon spending. Given conference committee stripping of amendments and Senate bypasses of an amendment process for a few years now, laudable mobilization by the grassroots around using the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) as a vehicle for progressive change has been repeatedly stymied. Since taking back the House, Republicans have made the process more difficult, blocking progressive amendments from even receiving a floor debate and vote. The ongoing dysfunction in the authorization and appropriations process therefore makes it hard to use “must pass” legislation to impact policy in the traditional way. But we may have bites at the apple as the FY 2025 budget is finalized perhaps in early 2024.

Not all hope is lost, though. In the House, the progressive movement managed to maintain most of the momentum it has built around cuts to the topline budget. Between 2021 and 2022 — a year in which a war broke out in Europe and tensions around Taiwan ran high — we lost only 8 votes (78 total) for a Lee-Pocan NDAA amendment to make major topline spending cuts (10% and $100 billion respectively). During that same time, an NDAA amendment vote to prevent increases to the budget beyond the Biden administration’s request actually gained 9 votes (151 total) in favor. A Congressional caucus looking to make cuts has proven to be a reliable ally in our work, and we can continue increasing its size and influence by applying pressure.

Some other generally positive factors include:

* The Republican House majority is slim and there may be fissures we can exploit (ally with conservative budget/deficit hawks).

* The Congressional Progressive Caucus has grown in numbers and leadership.

* The global Covid-19 pandemic and subsequent economic issues, have opened up a greater dialogue on national domestic spending.

* Many Americans are fighting for environmental protection, affordable housing, reliable public transit, quality public education, affordable health care, job creation, and racial justice. All of these groups are potential allies as their programs are being sacrificed to fund the Pentagon budget.

* Ever-growing pressure to cut global emissions and address the climate crisis provides us with opportunities to further spotlight the prolific pollution by the military industrial complex.

* The media attention and grassroots energy around the Green New Deal provide an opportunity to tie in the cost of Pentagon spending and the need to reduce that budget.

* The price tag for nuclear weapons is garnering more media attention than in previous years.

* Americans, for the most part, oppose more wars and support diplomatic efforts.

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