BREAKING: Elizabeth Warren Joins Bernie Sanders in Opposing Trump’s Massive War Budget

All other 2020 candidates have remained silent on how they will vote.

Sarah LazareDecember 10, 2019

Democratic presidential hopefuls US senator from Vermont Bernie Sanders and US Senator from Massachusetts Elizabeth Warren arrive for the first round of the second Democratic primary debate of the 2020 presidential campaign season hosted by CNN at the Fox Theatre in Detroit, Michigan on July 30, 2019. (Photo by Brendan Smialowski / AFP)

Update:

While peace campaigners contacted Warren’s office Tuesday asking her to reject the NDAA, the Massachusetts senator has not released a statement.

Fol­low­ing pub­li­ca­tion of this piece, a Sen­ate spokesper­son for Eliz­a­beth War­ren con­tact­ed In These Times with the fol­low­ing com­ment: I just saw your piece on the NDAA. She does not sup­port this lev­el of defense fund­ing and does not plan to vote in favor of the NDAA.”

War­ren then tweet­ed the fol­low­ing remarks: The Pentagon’s bud­get has been too large for too long. I can­not sup­port a defense bill that’s a $738 bil­lion Christ­mas present to giant defense con­trac­tors & under­mines our val­ues and security.”

Ear­li­er:

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I‑Vt.) is the only 2020 pres­i­den­tial hope­ful who has pledged to vote against — and loud­ly denounced — the Nation­al Defense Autho­riza­tion Act (NDAA) for 2020, a $738 bil­lion mil­i­tary spend­ing bill that would mark a $22 bil­lion increase over last year. The oth­er fron­trun­ner in the Sen­ate, Eliz­a­beth War­ren (D‑Mass.), serves on the Sen­ate Armed Ser­vices Com­mit­tee, which is tasked with nego­ti­at­ing the con­tents of the bill, but has so far remained silent on how she will vote. None of the oth­er Demo­c­ra­t­ic pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates in Con­gress — Sen. Cory Book­er (N.J.), Sen. Amy Klobuchar (Minn.), Sen. Michael Ben­net (Colo.) and Rep. Tul­si Gab­bard (D‑Hawaii) — have indi­cat­ed their vot­ing inten­tion, either.

The ini­tial House ver­sion of the NDAA includ­ed cer­tain restric­tions on how mil­i­tary spend­ing could be used, includ­ing mea­sures pro­hibit­ing the allo­ca­tion of funds to an unau­tho­rized war with Iran and stop­ping U.S. mil­i­tary sup­port for the war on Yemen. But a new com­pro­mise bill, released Mon­day, strips these out. While the com­pro­mise offers some con­ces­sions, such as paid parental leave for some fed­er­al work­ers, peace cam­paign­ers char­ac­ter­ize it as a win for the Right. The House and Sen­ate are expect­ed to vote as soon as this week on the bill, which includes autho­riza­tion for Trump’s pro­posed space force” as part of the compromise.

Erik Sper­ling, exec­u­tive direc­tor of Just For­eign Pol­i­cy, an anti­war orga­ni­za­tion, tells In These Times the bill is dan­ger­ous, fail­ing to rein in the mil­i­tary in any mean­ing­ful way. This NDAA does noth­ing to end our role in the hor­rif­ic war in Yemen, does­n’t explic­it­ly defund unau­tho­rized war with Iran, does­n’t repeal the Iraq Autho­riza­tion for Use of Mil­i­tary Force, and among many oth­er poli­cies that ratch­et up the new Cold War with Rus­sia and Chi­na, does­n’t ban dan­ger­ous low-yield nukes that will con­tribute to a new arms race.”

Just For­eign Pol­i­cy is part of a coali­tion of anti­war orga­ni­za­tions that is con­tact­ing law­mak­ers in the House and Sen­ate, ask­ing them to vote no on the bill.

So far, few have pub­licly pledged to vote no on the leg­is­la­tion. On Decem­ber 9, Sanders and Rep. Ro Khan­na (D‑Calif.) released a state­ment reject­ing the NDAA as a bill of aston­ish­ing moral cow­ardice.” The state­ment declares, Con­gress should have used this Nation­al Defense Autho­riza­tion Act to stop our end­less wars. Instead, this bill does noth­ing to rein in out-of-con­trol mil­i­tary spending.”

Every mem­ber of Con­gress should vote against this mea­sure,” the state­ment con­tin­ues. There is no press­ing rea­son for Con­gress to show­er Trump, his Sau­di friends, and the Pen­ta­gon con­trac­tors of the mil­i­tary-indus­tri­al com­plex with this $738-bil­lion tax­pay­er give­away right now.”

Reps. Ilhan Omar (D‑Minn.), Prami­la Jaya­pal (D‑Wash.), Rashi­da Tlaib (D‑Mich.), Mark Pocan (D‑Wis.) and Gwen Moore (D‑Wis.) have also pledged to vote against the bill, accord­ing to Sper­ling, who says Just For­eign Pol­i­cy spoke direct­ly to their staff. 

Sev­er­al of the pres­i­den­tial can­di­dates, includ­ing War­ren and Sanders, pre­vi­ous­ly pushed for reforms to the NDAA that are not includ­ed in the lat­est ver­sion. But none except Sanders has pub­licly com­mit­ted to vot­ing no.

While peace cam­paign­ers con­tact­ed Warren’s office Tues­day ask­ing her to reject the NDAA, the Mass­a­chu­setts sen­a­tor has not released a state­ment. She vot­ed in favor of the NDAA for 2018, which gave Trump a big­ger war bud­get than he had ini­tial­ly request­ed, but vot­ed no to the NDAA for 2019. Sanders has reject­ed every NDAA under Trump.

Sper­ling said that even if War­ren ends up vot­ing against the bill, it’s impor­tant for politi­cians to come out ear­ly — and strong­ly — against the NDAA. It’s not only impor­tant to vote the right way, but to come out with a strong state­ment and show lead­er­ship ear­ly. Mem­bers of Con­gress are look­ing for guid­ance from the major nation­al polit­i­cal lead­ers, and sit­ting on the side­line can send the sig­nal that defeat­ing end­less war is not a priority.”

War­ren did not imme­di­ate­ly respond to a request for comment.

Sarah Lazare is web edi­tor at In These Times. She comes from a back­ground in inde­pen­dent jour­nal­ism for pub­li­ca­tions includ­ing The Inter­cept, The Nation, and Tom Dis­patch. She tweets at @sarahlazare.

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