Sanders Announces He’s Voting No on $778 Billion Defense Bill

Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vermont) announced on Tuesday that he’s planning to vote against the Senate’s defense bill that would authorize a towering $778 billion for defense for fiscal year 2022.

Sanders lambasted the defense budget in a statement, pointing out that it’s about $37 billion more than Donald Trump’s 2020 defense budget and $25 billion more than President Joe Biden’s proposed defense budget. “All this for an agency, the Department of Defense, that continues to have massive fraud and cost overruns year after year and is the only major government agency not to successfully complete an independent audit,” he said.

“As a nation, we need to get our priorities right,” Sanders said. “I will vote ‘NO’ on the National Defense Authorization Act.”

The Vermont senator also pointed outThe Senate is tacking on $250 billionfor so-called technology production competitiveness and $52 billion to microchip companies. Recognizing the fact that there are many, it is important to acknowledge that there is a microchip shortage, Sanders said “you just don’t hand out corporate welfare to a handful of very profitable companies. You make sure there are some strings attached so the taxpayers don’t get ripped off.”

With these additions, the bill would cost over $1 trillion “with very little scrutiny,” Sanders pointed out.

He also took issue with a portion of the bill that gives $10 billion to Jeff Bezos’s space company, Blue Origin, calling it a “handout” and criticizing it as “unbelievable.” Congress Had been previously suggestedThe company received a similar contract earlier in the year, after it had worked hard to get the money. Congress won. splittingThe money between Blue Origin & SpaceX.

The Senate was to vote on the National Defense Authorization Act, (NDAA). on Wednesday, but Senate Majority leader Chuck Schumer (D–New York) saidThe vote will be delayed to allow for further negotiations. The NDAA is usually passed on a bipartisan basis, which it is expected to do this year. Sanders habitually votes againstThe NDAA is being updated year by year, but his vote does not need to be cast in order to pass the bill.

The likely passage of the bill comes at a time when Congress is negotiating a social spending bill that would cost $1.75 trillion over ten years — or about a fifth of the amount in spending over one year that the current defense bill proposes.

Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D.New Jersey), and Senator Joe Manchin (D.West Virginia), are both claiming that they will withhold support for the bill’s already severely watered down version until the Congressional Budget Office (CBO), evaluates it. However, Gottheimer and Manchin have raised no qualms over the defense bill’s price tag; Manchin will likely vote to authorize the spending, as he always doesGottheimer and. voted to passThe bill was published earlier this year.

Instead, the CBO is biased against many things. progressive policiesLike some provisions in the reconciliation bill’s reconciliation bill, the CBO score is likely to be used by the supposed deficit hawks as an excuse to possibly withhold their votes. With the bipartisan infrastructure bill — which This adds to the deficit — signed into law, and progressives lacking leverage, there is little motivation left for conservative Democrats to support the reconciliation package.

Sanders pointed out conservative Democrats’ hypocrisy on Tuesday. “Many of my colleagues tell the American people, day after day, how deeply concerned they are about the deficit and the national debt. They tell us that we just don’t have enough money to expand Medicare, guarantee paid family and medical leave, and address the climate crisis to the degree that we should if we want to protect the well-being of future generations,” he said.

“Isn’t it strange how even as we end the longest war in our nation’s history concerns about the deficit and national debt seem to melt away under the influence of the powerful Military Industrial Complex?” Sanders continued.