Rep. Keith Ellison (D-Minn.) voted against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) last night, citing excessive military spending and its failure to end the war in Afghanistan.
The 2013 NDAA fails to address wasteful Pentagon spending, approving a budget 20 percent higher than the Cold War average and double the amount spent in 2001. The bill includes defense spending that is almost as much as the amount spent on defense by the rest of the world combined. It includes $88.5 billion for the continuation of the war in Afghanistan, which Congressman Ellison opposes.
"It's wrong for Congress to approve record levels of Pentagon spending at a time when it's cutting benefits that working Americans depend on," Ellison said. "We can balance our national
security needs while making smarter, more targeted investments in defense. U.S. military leaders have urged us to trim the Pentagon's budget. It's time for Congress to listen."
Congressman Ellison recently led a bipartisan effort encouraging President Obama and Congressional leaders to achieve defense savings in the current budget negotiations. His letter is available http://ellison.house.gov/index.php%3Foption=com_content%26task=view%26id=929%26Itemid=186">here.
"While I am pleased that this bill includes two common-sense amendments I introduced, it includes several other concerning provisions, such as advancing plans to build an unnecessary East Coast missile defense system, which Pentagon and national security officials have not requested," Ellison said. "It also fails to correct a dangerous provision in previous NDAA legislation that allows for the indefinite detention of American citizens, violating habeas corpus and their Constitutional rights."
These are the Congressman's bipartisan amendments included in the final bill:
An amendment introduced with Reps. Rosa DeLauro (D-Conn.) and Kay Granger (R-Texas) to end Pentagon contracts with the main Russian arms dealer supplying weapons to the Syrian government, which has killed tens of thousands of people since March 2011. Currently the Pentagon has contracts to buy helicopters and parts for the Afghan Security Forces from Rosoboronexport, the main supplier of weapons to Syria.
An amendment coauthored with Reps. John Conyers (D-Mich.), Walter Jones (R-N.C.), and Ron Paul (R-Texas) clarifying that nothing in the bill can be construed to authorize the use of force against Iran.