29 Democrats Sign Letter Insisting a Decrease in Defense Authorizations in the FY 2021 NDAA
May 25, 2020
Representatives Barbara Lee (D-CA) and Mark Pocan (D-WI) are leading a group of 29 Democrats insisting that this year’s National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) authorize a level of spending below last year’s budget. In a letter addressed to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Armed Service Committee, the 29 signing Democrats wrote, “Congress must remain focused on responding to the coronavirus pandemic and distributing needed aid domestically. In order to do so, appropriators must have access to increased levels of non-defense spending which could be constrained by any increase to defense spending.” In the Democratic-led House, the letter is raising concern because last year, House Republicans voted against the initial House NDAA, meaning it had to pass on Democratic support alone. With this letter, it is clear that an NDAA could not pass on Democratic support alone if it does not meet the demands outlined by the 29 signing Democrats, as only 19 Democratic “no” votes would be needed to holdup the bill.
In an accompanying press release, Congresswomen Barbara Lee (D-CA), one of two Members of Congress leading the effort, said that “the COVID pandemic has laid bare how America has failed to make its budgets reflect the real needs of our everyday families. It’s long past time that we address our bloated military budget and retarget resources towards policies and programs that matter the most for keeping us safe, healthy, and secure.”
The Chairman and Ranking Member of the House Armed Service Committee have remained optimistic regarding the drafting and passage of the FY 2021 NDAA despite uncertainty brought by the COCID-19 pandemic. Ranking Member Mac Thornberry (R-TX) has said he is hopeful that this year’s NDAA will be more bipartisan than last years, and Chairman Adam Smith (D-WA) has said that House Democrats are more aware of what an NDAA needs to include in order for it to pass the Republican Senate and be signed into law by President Trump.
This letter, though, marks new uncertainty surrounding Congressional action and highlights how the pandemic is affecting all Congressional proceedings. ASME will continue to monitor the situation and report on any new developments.