Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Bill

Reminder: the two-year budget deal between Congress and the White House caps the 2021 budget at $740 billion, compared to $738 billion appropriated for 2020.

On February 10, the Trump administration submitted its Fiscal Year 2021 budget request to Congress of $740.5 billion, only a modest change from FY 2020 because of last year’s budget deal between Congress and the White House. Some highlights include a big increase in the request for nuclear weapons refurbishment, the beginning of a phase-out of the Overseas Contingency Operations budget and a reduction of almost $12 billion in the international affairs budget that pays for diplomacy.

The Senate Armed Services Committee marked up or wrote the fiscal year 2021 National Defense Authorization Bill the week of June 11.

The bill supports funding of $740.5 billion in military spending. The Committee put forward as the primary rationale for high military budgets the decline of U.S. military superiority, particularly in the Indo-Pacific region, plus “threats from other aggressors — rogue states like Iran and North Korea” and terrorist organizations.

One major new initiative is establishment of a new Pacific Deterrence Initiative at a cost this year of $1.4 billion and $5.5 billion in Fiscal Year 2022.

On June 24, Majority Leader Mitch McConnell brought to the Senate floor the $741 billion Senate version of the National Defense Authorization bill, S. 4049. Since then, the Senate has spent more than a week on the bill; Senators submitted 748 amendments; and exactly one amendment — a Paul (R-KY)-Udall (D-NM) amendment to withdraw U.S. troops from Afghanistan — received a recorded vote. That amendment was tabled or defeated 60-33. Dozens of additional non-controversial amendments that both Democrats and Republicans agreed to in advance were adopted by voice vote, including 62 on July 2. When the Senate returns from recess, there are six more amendments that will be voted upon, with 60 votes required for passage of each one, including a Sanders (I-VT) amendment to reduce the Pentagon budget by 10%, with the money to be invested in jobs, education, health care, and housing.

In the meantime, on July 1, the House Armed Services Committee completed markup of the Fiscal Year 2021 National Defense Authorization Bill. The bill passed unanimously 56-0. There were no successful amendments to cut nuclear weapons spending or the total $741 billion in the bill. Perhaps the most controversial provision in both the Senate and House bills would require the removal of confederate names from military bases and installations — which President Trump has declared would lead to his veto of the bill. The bill will next go to the House floor. There will be no House floor votes over the next two weeks; the time is reserved for House committee hearings and meetings. Among the committee sessions: House Appropriations Committee markups of the annual appropriations bills, including Defense and Energy and Water.

Fiscal Year 2021 Defense Appropriations Bill

Reminder: the two-year budget deal between Congress and the White House caps the 2021 budget at $740 billion, compared to $738 billion appropriated for 2020.

The House Appropriations Committee released its plans for subcommittee consideration of the Defense Appropriations Bill on July 8 at 3 p.m.

Full committee markups will begin on July 9. The full House is expected to vote on spending bills during the last two weeks in July.

The Senate Appropriations Committee schedule for markups has been delayed from the original projection of the week of June 22.

War Powers Resolution

On January 9, the House voted to force President Trump to seek congressional approval for further military action against Iran. The war powers measure offered by Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) was approved by an almost party-line vote of 224-194, with three Republicans voting yes (Gaetz, Massie and Rooney) and eight Democrats voting no (Brindisi, Cunningham, Gottheimer, Horn, Luria, McAdams, Murphy and Rose).

On January 30, an amendment by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) to repeal the 2002 Authorization to Use Military Force (AUMF), which has been used by administrations of both parties to cover combat in many places, was approved 236-166, with 11 Republicans and 1 independent voting “yea,” while 2 Democrats voted “nay.”

A second measure offered the same day by Rep. Ro Khanna (D-CA) to prohibit U.S. military action against Iran without prior congressional approval was adopted 228-175, with four Republicans and an independent voting “yea” and three Democrats voting “nay.”

On February 13, the Senate approved the Kaine (D-VA), Durbin (D-IL), Lee (R-UT) and Paul (R-KY) war powers measure, S.J.Res 68, a measure to limit the President’s actions against Iran. The vote was 55-45, with an unusually large number of eight Republican Senators voting aye: Lamar Alexander (TN), Todd Young (IN), Mike Lee (UT), Lisa Murkowski (AK), Susan Collins (ME), Rand Paul (KY, Bill Cassidy (LA) and Jerry Moran (KS).

On May 7, the President vetoed the bill to limit his actions against Iran.

Click here to see analysis of the defense budget by the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation.

From John Isaacs, Center for Arms Control and Nonproliferation

To view key pieces of legislation currently in Congress that Peace Action is working on, please click here.

We Support Rep. Ilhan Omar’s “Pathway to PEACE,” A Bold Foreign Policy Vision for the United States of America

On Feb. 12, Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) unveiled the Pathway to PEACE (Progressive, Equitable, and Constructive Engagement), a package of seven bills aimed at reorienting U.S. foreign policy. The package outlines a bold progressive vision to rethink the country’s approach to foreign policy by centering human rights, justice and peace as the pillars of America’s engagement in the world, and making military action a last resort.

The package includes the following bills:

Global Peacebuilding Act: Authorizes a transfer of $5 billion from the Pentagon’s Overseas Contingency Operations budget to the State Department to create a new, multi-lateral Global Peacebuilding Fund.

Stop Arming Human Rights Abusers Act: Establishes red lines based on internationally recognized gross violations of international human rights and international humanitarian law. Once a country crosses those lines, it automatically triggers a prohibition on security aid of any kind, arms sales including those controlled by the Commerce Dept. (tear gas, etc.), and exchanges with U.S. law enforcement. Read the bill here.

Global Migration Agreement Act: Instructs the State Department and U.S. Ambassador to the UN to take the lead on creating a binding international agreement on global migration. Read the bill here.

Congressional Oversight of Sanctions Act: Requires a joint resolution of Congress to approve sanctions issued under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) within 60 days of being back in session after the sanctions are announced, and requires Congressional approval to renew existing sanctions. Read the bill here.

YouthBuild International Act: Replicates the highly successful domestic YouthBuild program – which helps disadvantaged youth obtain the education and employment skills they need to achieve economic self-sufficiency. Read the bill here.

Resolution on the U.N. Convention on the Rights of the Child: The United States is the only country in the world not to have ratified the UNCRC. Protecting the rights of children is fundamental, and we should be a world leader on this issue, which we can’t be unless we’re a state party to the Convention. Read the bill here.

Resolution on the Rome Statute, and the International Criminal Court: The United States has been a leader on international criminal justice since Nuremberg, and our hostility towards the ICC has always been at odds with our commitment to the rule of law, accountability, and to the principle that no one is above the law. we need to send a strong message in support of international criminal justice. Read the bill here.