Rep. Khanna Speaks Against Increasing Pentagon Budget Above Biden’s Request During NDAA Markup
September 1, 2021 - Washington, DC - Today, Rep. Ro Khanna (CA-17), a member of the House Armed Services Committee, announced his intention to cast his vote against advancing the FY22 National Defense Authorization Act to the floor after the Committee adopted an amendment to add $23.9 billion above President Biden’s Pentagon budget request. This is the first time Rep. Ro Khanna has voted against advancing the national defense policy bill to the floor.
The House Armed Services Committee voted for this massive increase the same day the Cost of War Project published a new report finding that 20 years after September 11, 2001, the budgetary cost of the U.S. post 9/11 wars continue to mount to $8 trillion and more.
Rep. Ro Khanna delivered the following remarks during the Committee markup:
“I am proud to have served on the House Armed Services Committee for over four years. This is my 5th NDAA markup and have always voted to advance the legislation out of committee. I support a strong and robust defense budget and appreciate the important investments in technology and innovation that have been included by Chairman Smith in this budget. Although I've never supported bloated defense budgets on the floor, I've found it important to advance the legislation to the floor. This year however, I cannot advance a defense bill that spends more on the Pentagon than the Pentagon asked for.
We just ended the longest war in American history, now is the time to decrease defense spending, not increase it. A $23.9 billion increase – $35.9 billion more than we’re spending this year – is more than what President Biden and the Pentagon asked for, would be nothing but a handout to defense contractors upset by our exit from Afghanistan. While I strongly support additional investments in emerging technologies, surely those investments can come out of the money we are saving from ending the war in Afghanistan.
We are already spending three times as much on our military as China did, and that doesn’t even account for over $400 billion in additional spending by major U.S. allies. One would think our defense budget would decrease or at least stay the same after ending our longest war. To increase it goes against all logic.
That $23.9 billion would be much better spent taking care of our veterans who fought that war and came home to struggle with PTSD, Traumatic Brain Injuries, homelessness, and a general lack of economic opportunity. Or, we could use that money to help resettle our Afghan allies and refugees, the very people our brave service members put their lives on the line to protect.
Now that we have ended our longest war, we need to grapple with the clear and present threats we find ourselves facing today. Over the last year and a half, 640,000 people, with tens of thousands more expected yet to come, have lost their lives to the covid pandemic. This $23.9 billion could be used to vaccinate the world, protect ourselves from COVID and future pandemics and tackle the greatest national security threat of our time: the climate crisis. There is no question that our country is also facing grave and multi-faceted threats from terrorism, cyber attacks, and other threats from our geopolitical competitors, but we need smarter investments in 21st century defense.”