‘Gift to Trump’: Democrats and Republicans Unite on $738 Billion Blank Check for War

(CD) — A diverse coalition of more than 30 progressive advocacy groups on Tuesday condemned the bipartisan, $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act as a “blank check” to the military-industrial complex that does nothing to restrain President Donald Trump’s reckless foreign policy.

With a House vote on the proposed NDAA expected as early as Wednesday, the groups urged lawmakers to vote against the measure.

“The NDAA is a massive blank check,” said the coalition, which includes Win Without War, MoveOn, and CodePink.

“The authorization of $738 billion is obscene,” the groups added. “Further inflating the Pentagon’s overstuffed coffers does not make us safer—it perpetuates a system that treats military intervention as the solution to all world problems. Meanwhile, every dollar spent by the Pentagon is a dollar not spent on education, healthcare, or climate. When critics attack social spending by asking ‘how will you pay for it?’ this will be our answer.”

Bipartisan House and Senate negotiations over the 2020 NDAA stripped out nearly every provision progressives fought to include.

The final product increases the Pentagon’s budget by $22 billion and gives Trump his long-sought “Space Force” while doing nothing to end U.S. complicity in Yemen, reverse Trump’s transgender military ban, or prevent a war with Iran.

“The results of negotiations for the final text of the NDAA are disastrous,” the coalition said. “The FY2020 NDAA conference report has been so severely stripped of vital House-passed provisions essential to keeping the current administration in check that it no longer represents a compromise, but a near complete capitulation.”

“It is a blank check for endless wars, fuel for the further militarization of U.S. foreign policy, and a gift to Donald Trump,” the groups added. “Its failures not only underscore how critical it is that we continue building progressive grassroots movements for a better foreign policy—it calls into question the defense authorization process altogether.”

Republicans and Trump have enthusiastically celebrated the legislation, which was unveiled (pdf) on Monday.

“Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA,” Trump tweeted Wednesday. “Congress—don’t delay this anymore! I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!”

Just a handful of progressive lawmakers have spoken out against the sweeping Pentagon bill, including Reps. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.) and Mark Pocan (D-Wis.).

Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) are the only 2020 Democratic presidential candidates who have announced their opposition to the measure.

“The Pentagon’s budget has been too large for too long,” Warren tweeted Tuesday. “I cannot support a defense bill that’s a $738 billion Christmas present to giant defense contractors and undermines our values and security.”

By Jake Johnson / Creative Commons / Common Dreams / Report a typo

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