Saturday, December 21, 2013

Only 3 Members of the Democratic Caucus Had Enough Principle to Vote Against the NDAA

Last week, the House passed the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for FY 2014 with a large bipartisan margin of 350 to 69.  50 progressive Democrats and 19 conservative-libertarian Republicans voted no.

Thursday night, the Senate had its vote on the NDAA, and (as expected) it sailed through easily, on a vote of 84 to 15.

12 Republicans and 3 members of the Democratic caucus voted no.

The 12 Republicans were John Barrasso (R-WY), Tom Coburn (R-OK), Bob Corker (R-TN), Mike Crapo (R-ID), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mike Enzi (R-WY), Jeff Flake (R-AZ), Rand Paul (R-KY), James Risch (R-ID), Jeff Sessions (R-AL), and Richard Shelby (R-AL). I am not entirely sure of the reasoning for all of them, but Republicans like Lee and Paul can be critical of military overreach.

The 3 members of the Democratic caucus were Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Bernie Sanders (I-VT), and Ron Wyden (D-OR).

Last year, Crapo, Lee, Paul, and Risch (on the Republican side) voted against the NDAAs for FY 2012 and FY 2013 as well, as did Merkley, Sanders, and Wyden.

Jeff Merkley explained his NO vote on Twitter last night:

Bernie Sanders delivered an excellent floor speech yesterday on the bloated Pentagon budget and issued the following statement on his vote:
“At a time when the United States has a $17.2 trillion national debt and when we spend almost as much on defense as the rest of the world combined, the time is long overdue for us to take a hard look at the waste, cost overruns and financial mismanagement that have plagued the huge Defense Department for years.
The situation is so absurd that the Pentagon is unable to even account for how it spends its money. Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office cited its inability to audit the Pentagon.  They wrote that they were unable to do a comprehensive financial analysis due to ‘serious financial management problems at the Department of Defense that made its financial statements un-auditable.’
“I support a strong defense system for our country and a robust National Guard and Reserve that can meet our domestic and foreign challenges. At a time, however, when the country has a $17.2 trillion national debt and is struggling with huge unmet needs, it is unacceptable that the Defense Department continues to waste massive amounts of money.”
Dick Durbin (D-IL), Al Franken (D-MN), and Tom Harkin (D-IA) all voted against the NDAAs of the last two years but now decided to embrace bloated Pentagon spending. 

Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), Ed Markey (D-MA) and Chris Murphy (D-CT) voted against the NDAA for the last two years as well when they were in the House. They apparently have grown to embrace bloated Pentagon spending in their new positions in the Senate. I was disappointed as well that Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) did not join progressives like Merkley and Sanders in opposition of the NDAA; she tends to toe the party line when it comes to such matters.

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