41 Dems buck Pelosi in defense vote
© Greg Nash

A significant number of Democrats voted for the defense authorization Friday despite pressure from their leadership to oppose it over how it would fund the Pentagon.

House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (Calif.) and other Democratic leaders oppose the increased funding for the Pentagon's war fund (Overseas Contingency Operations) to circumvent spending limits under the 2011 budget deal that implemented sequestration. But 41 Democrats nonetheless voted for the defense bill that usually attracts a wide bipartisan coalition.

Most of the Democrats who voted for it are vulnerable lawmakers who will be top GOP targets in the 2016 election cycle or serve on the House Armed Services Committee, which crafted the legislation.

Pelosi, though, said the defense authorization "perpetuates instability" and sets unrealistic funding for the Pentagon budget. She suggested the vote further demonstrated that a majority of Democrats could sustain a presidential veto of legislation adhering to the GOP budget framework.

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"Democrats stand for a strong national defense, and today, our members sent a strong message in support of giving our men and women in uniform and our military overall the certainty they need, not Republican budget gimmicks," Pelosi said in a statement.

Two of the defecting Democrats, Reps. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.) and Patrick Murphy (Fla.), are running for Senate. A vote against the defense authorization could have risked attack ads accusing them of not supporting the military, especially in a statewide race compared with a district race.

Duckworth is also an Iraq War veteran and serves on the Armed Services panel.

In an example of what those attacks ads could be like, Speaker John BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerIsrael should resist Trump's efforts to politicize support Lobbyists race to cash in on cannabis boom Rising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump's intel chief MORE (R-Ohio) accused the 143 Democrats who voted against the legislation of "letting politics come before national security." BoehnerJohn Andrew BoehnerIsrael should resist Trump's efforts to politicize support Lobbyists race to cash in on cannabis boom Rising star Ratcliffe faces battle to become Trump's intel chief MORE, however, has voted against the defense authorization twice - in 2009 and 2010.

"With all the threats our troops face and the sacrifices they make, Democrats’ opposition to this defense bill is in fact indefensible," Boehner said in a statement.

Reps. Gwen Graham (Fla.), Brad Ashford (Neb.), Scott Peters (Calif.) and Pete Aguilar (Calif.) serve on the House Armed Services Committee and are among the most vulnerable Democrats heading into 2016.

"The government’s first and foremost duty is to keep our nation safe. I’m proud to support the National Defense Authorization Act, which will ensure our military remains the strongest on earth," Graham said in a statement.

All but one of the 27 Democrats serving on the Armed Services panel voted for the defense bill during the committee markup last month. Yet only 16 voted for it on the floor, showing the political wind had shifted.

Rep. Adam SmithDavid (Adam) Adam SmithWarren's pledge to avoid first nuclear strike sparks intense pushback Landmark US-Russia arms control treaty poised for final blow Young Democrats look to replicate Ocasio-Cortez's primary path MORE (Wash.), the top Armed Services Democrat, voted against the defense authorization on the floor, citing the $38 billion for the war fund circumventing spending caps under sequestration.

Other vulnerable Democrats like Reps. Ami BeraAmerish (Ami) Babulal BeraDemocratic lawmakers support Bustos after DCCC resignations Overnight Defense: Shanahan exit shocks Washington | Pentagon left rudderless | Lawmakers want answers on Mideast troop deployment | Senate could vote on Saudi arms deal this week | Pompeo says Trump doesn't want war with Iran Cruz pitches Ocasio-Cortez on bill to make birth control available over the counter MORE (Calif.), Ann KirkpatrickAnn KirkpatrickTwo Democrats vow to press forward on Trump impeachment Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment The House Democrats who voted to kill impeachment effort MORE (Ariz.), Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.), Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.) and Collin Peterson (Minn.) are also top GOP targets. 

Friday's largely party-line vote marked a departure from previous years. By contrast, last year a majority of Democrats voted in favor: 109-85.

The defense authorization bill is one of the few annual bills that has continued to clear both chambers of Congress on time, now in its 53rd consecutive year.

Below is a list of the 41 Democrats who voted for the National Defense Authorization Act of 2016:

1. Pete Aguilar (Calif.)

2. Brad Ashford (Neb.)

3. Ami Bera (Calif.)

4. Julia BrownleyJulia Andrews BrownleyKatherine Clark quietly eyes leadership ascent California Democrats unveil redistricting reform bill after Supreme Court partisan gerrymandering ruling WHIP LIST: The 127 House Democrats backing an impeachment inquiry MORE (Calif.)

5. Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosDCCC is out of step with Democratic values Climate report makes agri-business a target Farmers have to be part of climate solutions MORE (Ill.)

6. Matt Cartwright (Pa.)

7. Lacy Clay (Mo.)

8. Jim Cooper (Tenn.)

9. Jim Costa (Calif.)

10. Joe Courtney (Conn.)

11. Henry Cuellar (Texas)

12. Susan Davis (Calif.)

13. John Delaney (Md.)

14. Tammy Duckworth (Ill.)

15. Elizabeth Esty (Conn.)

16. Bill FosterGeorge (Bill) William FosterHouse Democrat offers bill to let students with pot conviction retain federal aid New bill would restrict Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac from lobbying Pelosi joins other Dem leaders in support of Chicago Symphony Orchestra strikers MORE (Ill.)

17. Tulsi GabbardTulsi GabbardABC unveils moderators for third Democratic debate Lawmakers urge DNC to name Asian American debate moderator The Hill's 12:30 Report: Biden expands lead in new national poll MORE (Hawaii)

18. Gwen Graham (Fla.)

19. Denny HeckDennis (Denny) Lynn HeckExclusive: Guccifer 2.0 hacked memos expand on Pennsylvania House races Heck enjoys second political wind Incoming lawmaker feeling a bit overwhelmed MORE (Wash.)

20. Derek KilmerDerek Christian KilmerHouse Democrats inch toward majority support for impeachment Wave of Washington state lawmakers call for impeachment proceedings against Trump No. 3 Senate Democrat calls for House to begin impeachment proceedings against Trump MORE (Wash.)

21. Ann Kirkpatrick (Ariz.)

22. Jim Langevin (R.I.)

23. Rick LarsenRichard (Rick) Ray LarsenTwo Democrats vow to press forward on Trump impeachment Here are the 95 Democrats who voted to support impeachment WHIP LIST: The 127 House Democrats backing an impeachment inquiry MORE (Wash.)

24. John Larson (Conn.)

25. Daniel Lipinski (Ill.)

26. David Loebsack (Iowa)

27. Michelle Lujan Grisham (N.M.)

28. Sean Patrick Maloney (N.Y.)

29. Ann McLane Kuster (N.H.)

30. Patrick Murphy (Fla.)

31. Donald Norcross (N.J.)

32. Beto O'Rourke (Texas)

33. Scott Peters (Calif.)

34. Collin Peterson (Minn.)

35. Kathleen Rice (N.Y.)

36. Raul Ruiz (Calif.)

37. Dutch Ruppersberger (Md.)

38. Kyrsten Sinema (Ariz.)

39. Mark Takai (Hawaii)

40. Marc Veasey (Texas)

41. Tim Walz (Minn.)

This story was updated at 2:42 p.m.