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The Politics of Pentagon Spending: Can the U.S. Military Budget Be Cut?

Three weeks after the House voted against her amendment to the FY2021 National Defense Authorization Act, Representative Barbara Lee (D-California) couldn’t help but evince a bit of residual exasperation. “It was so modest,” she said in an interview with national security podcast, Press The Button. “We should have had 250 votes for this.”

Lee’s amendment, put forward with Congressional Progressive Caucus co-chair Representative Mark Pocan (D-Wisconsin), proposed a ten percent cut in Pentagon spending—or roughly $74 billion out of this year’s budget—echoing a similar measure introduced in the Senate by Senator Bernie Sanders. The freed money would then go towards coronavirus relief efforts and other domestic priorities.

“Our nation is facing an economic and health crisis and a bloated defense budget doesn’t get us any closer to addressing the ongoing problems American families are facing at home,” wrote Lee and Pocan in a mid-July op-ed.

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