Today, Congresswoman Barbara Lee (D-CA) was one of 120 Members of Congress to vote against H.R. 4310, the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). Lee offered amendments to the bill which would safely and responsibly bring our troops home from Afghanistan, keep Pentagon spending within the limits of the Budget Control Act, and ensure that a meaningful diplomatic option with Iran is on the table.
Lee introduced an amendment to enforce the terms of the Budget Control Act which was signed into law on August 2, 2011, to avert a government shutdown. Congress voted to limit Pentagon spending, but the House Republican leadership proposal spends$8 billion more than allowed under the Budget Control Act. The bi-partisan amendment was not adopted (170-252).
"The Pentagon budget already consumes almost fifty cents out of every discretionary dollar we spend, and adding billions of unrequested dollars at the expense of struggling families during the ongoing economic downturn is wrong," said Congresswoman Lee. "While many of us would support a larger cut, this is a common sense amendment to keep spending in line with what was agreed to just last year. At a time when American families, businesses, and government agencies are facing budget cuts and tightening their belts--why shouldn't the Department of Defense be asked to become more efficient and eliminate wasteful programs?"
Congresswoman Lee introduced an amendment to appoint a Special Envoy for Iran to ensure that all diplomatic avenues -- including direct, bilateral talks -- are pursued to avoid a war with Iran and to prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon. In the past thirty years, Iran and the United States have sat down for direct, bilateral talks for all of 45 minutes. Three decades of little contact and open hostility have accomplished nothing. The amendment would begin in earnest the diplomatic dialogue necessary to ensure that all alternatives to war are truly exhausted. The amendment did not pass (77-344).
Lee commented: "We must prevent an Iran armed with nuclear weapons. We must not let the military option override any diplomatic initiative which would stand a better chance of keeping Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon."
Congresswoman Lee also introduced an amendment that would bring about a responsible and immediate end to the war in Afghanistan. The amendment would end combat operations at the same time it protects troops by requiring that any dollar directed to Afghanistan could only be spent for the safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. troops and military contractors. The amendment did not pass the House (113-303).
On Wednesday, Congresswoman Lee was joined by 100 Members of the House, including five Republicans, in sending a letter to President Obama urging an expedited withdrawal of U.S. military forces from Afghanistan in advance of the NATO summit.
"The American people have overwhelmingly come to the conclusion that our brave men and women in uniform have accomplished all that we have asked of them and it is time to bring them home from Afghanistan," said Congresswoman Lee. "My amendment provided Members of the House the opportunity to stand squarely with the war-weary American people. After over a decade of war and more than $500 billion in direct costs -- not a penny of it paid for, it is past time to shift our budget priorities and invest in jobs and our economy here at home."