Peace Action West News

ACTION ALERT: Rare Opportunity to Block Pentagon Bloat

The House is about to vote on the annual Pentagon policy bill.

The bad news is that it is full of giveaways to the defense industry.

The good news is that for the first time in memory there’s a good chance to stop it.

Can you call to ask your Representative to vote no on the defense policy bill.

The House of Representatives has just started debating the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). The bill sets defense policies and authorizes $612 billion in spending. Every year, this bill is loaded with billions in pork and waste that lines Pentagon contractors’ pockets by buying weapons that don’t work and systems driven by obsolete Cold War strategies.

But this year, Republicans in Congress are trying to do something even worse.They’ve added nearly $40 billion to a massive slush fund at the Pentagon. President Obama has said he will veto the bill because of this so-called “Overseas Contingency Operations” (OCO) fund that shovels money to the Pentagon while ignoring brutal cuts to critical social programs.

Another thing that’s different this year is that the Democratic leadership is actually encouraging all Democrats to vote no.[1] Historically only the most progressive Democrats would vote no on this “must pass” legislation, fearing the “soft on defense” label. This year many more may vote no — including some Republicans that have problems with the bill. [2]

The so-called OCO account was intended to only fund the costs of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yet the costs of those wars have decreased as troops have come home. Now, Congress is using the OCO account as a massive slush fund. In fact, so much extra money has been put in the OCO slush fund that, if it were its own government agency, it would be the second largest part of the federal government, second only to the Pentagon itself!

While wasting billions on the OCO slush fund, Congress is making cuts to domestic investments. Because of this dangerous plan, funding for veterans will be cut this year. You simply cannot say you support our troops if you are willing to use a slush fund to pad the pockets of the Pentagon contractors while you ask veterans to endure budget cuts.

In addition to the $96 billion OCO slush fund, the NDAA is full of dangerous policy provisions. As written, the bill would keep Guantanamo open forever, invest billions in wasteful weapons like the F-35 plane, prevent sensible military base closures, and encourage a new Cold War with Russia by ramping up U.S. military engagement with and lethal arms for Ukraine.

It’s time to say enough is enough. Call your Representative today.

[1] Defense budget hits resistance in House, Stars and Stripes, May 13, 2015
[2] Democratic opposition growing against defense spending bill, AP, May 13, 2015