Early in 2017, in the first months of the Trump administration, Congress increased Pentagon spending by $15 billion over the levels of the outgoing Obama administration. The total—$634 billion— was more in inflation-adjusted terms than the United States spent at the height of the Vietnam War.
This past week, the Democratic-controlled House and the Republican-controlled Senate both approved a budget of over $740 billion for FY 2021. This is a whopping 20.2% increase in military spending (15.0% over inflation) over that 2017 budget.
All the billions on missiles and bombs have not bought real human security for our country.
Who would say Americans are 15% more secure? A pandemic that has already killed more Americans than all the wars the U.S. has fought since World War II continues to rage. The United States faces a severe economic crisis that has already required massive investments to help families stay barely afloat financially while tens of millions are out of work. All the billions on missiles and bombs have not bought real human security for our country.
Perhaps that’s why momentum is building towards finally reining in ballooning Pentagon budgets. In one of the most aggressive attempts to cut military spending in recent years, the House and Senate both voted on an amendment led by Senator Bernie Sanders (VT) and Representatives Mark Pocan (WI-02) and Barbara Lee to redirect 10% of military spending, taken evenly from all accounts apart from pay and healthcare, to domestic programs in our nation’s hardest hit communities.
Ultimately, 93 representatives and 23 senators voted to simply say “enough is enough”.
I won’t lie—given the militaristic history of the United States and mindset of too many voters, a large cut to the military budget is not an easy ask for most Members of Congress. But that makes it even more important that we raise our voices in support and thank the Members of Congress who do have the courage to stand up and say no.
We are unfortunately still in the early stages of the work to build a foreign policy centered around peacebuilding and prevention rather than militarized responses. To move toward the world that we seek, we are going to have to convince our leaders that their voters are hungry for a change and will support them if they do finally break with our nation’s history of militarism to choose a different future. There is no better way to do that than to continue raising your voice every chance you have.