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Congresswoman Sara Jacobs Leads Floor Debate on Amendment to Remove Unnecessary Spending from NDAA

Jacobs co-sponsored amendment to limit authorization to level requested by the President

Washington, September 22, 2021 | Karla Alvarado (18572531955)

Washington, D.C. - Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA-53) led debate on the House floor in support of an amendment to restore the funding authorization in the fiscal year 2022 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) to the level requested by the President. 

WATCH: Jacobs speaks out against increasing Pentagon budget over White House request.

Congresswoman Jacobs is a co-sponsor of the amendment formally introduced by Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA-13) (text here), which reverses an amendment offered by Congressman Mike Rogers (R-AL-3) during the House Armed Services Committee markup to increase the topline number in the NDAA by $23.9 billion above the White House’s original FY 2022 request. The House will vote on the amendment on Thursday. 

In addition to Jacobs, the amendment is also co-sponsored by Congressman Mark Pocan (D-WI-2), Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY-14), Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley (D-MA-7), Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI-4), and Congresswoman Marie Newman (D-IL-3).

Congresswoman Jacobs voted against this effort to increase Pentagon spending in committee and because of its inclusion, also voted against the overall bill.

Congresswoman Jacobs’ opening remarks as delivered:

This amendment, offered by my friend and colleague Congresswoman Barbara Lee, restores the NDAA to the original funding level requested by the White House, the Pentagon, and the Chair of the Armed Services Committee.

Specifically, it would remove the Rogers Amendment, which increased the pending authorization by $23.9 billion.

When Mr. Rogers’ amendment was offered during committee markup, I voted against it. And nothing over the last few weeks has led me to change my mind.

Mr. Speaker, just three weeks ago, we ended our military operations in Afghanistan -- America’s longest war and one that started when I was in middle school. 

And yet, what some are concluding from that, is what we need is more war, more weapons, and billions of dollars more than even what the Pentagon themselves are asking for.

So many of my colleagues who supported Mr. Rogers’ amendment note the emerging threat from China as their reason to support this increase -- even though very little of this increase is even relevant to China, and most national security experts agree that making needed domestic investments is far more important to our competitiveness with China. 

Instead, this inflated budget seeks to sugarcoat that for years we’ve been decreasing investments in diplomacy and the support of our service members in favor of purchasing new, unproven, or unneeded weapons.

We need to have an honest conversation about the Pentagon budget -- and focus on what is achievable, what the real threats are, and what we actually need for our national security.

For the last twenty years, we’ve been told we need more. But I think it’s time to recognize that there are simply not military solutions to every problem.

I thank Congresswoman Lee for offering this amendment. I urge my colleagues to vote yes.

And with that, Mr. Speaker, I will reserve the balance of my time.

Congresswoman Jacobs’ concluding remarks as delivered: 

So now my colleagues on the other side talk a lot about the needs from Afghanistan.

What's interesting is that in the Continuing Resolution that this body passed just yesterday, there was additional supplemental funding for Afghanistan and yet my colleagues on the other side of the aisle decided to vote against it. 

I also hear them talk about the threats, and the briefings that supposedly we were not in. 

I sit on both the Foreign Affairs and Armed Services Committee. I assure you, I've been to every single one of those classified briefings on the threats. I'm very aware of the threats. 

But we need to dispel the notion that our ability to respond to the threats depends solely on the size of our military. 

I'm honored to represent San Diego, a proud military community, and they don't need a larger budget -- they need one that takes their needs into account. They need better wages and housing free of mold, child care, and job opportunities for their spouses. And they need a government that goes through every diplomatic channel before making the decision to send them to war. 

Earlier this month, Vice Chair of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General John Hyten asked, “Do you think any taxpayer in this country would believe that for seven hundred billion dollars a year we can't have a great defense?” 

Hyten said, “We should be able to, and it's crazy that we can't.” 

He's right. It is crazy. And more of us need to be willing to say what everyone knows is true: we don't need to spend money that even the Pentagon themselves are not asking for. 

With that I yield back my time.