Advocacy groups urge Pelosi, Schumer to keep Pentagon funding out of infrastructure bills

Advocacy groups urge Pelosi, Schumer to keep Pentagon funding out of infrastructure bills
© Greg Nash

More than 40 advocacy groups are urging congressional leadership to keep any Pentagon funding out of the upcoming infrastructure packages.

In a letter being sent Friday to House Speaker Nancy PelosiNancy PelosiYellen to Congress: Raise the debt ceiling or risk 'irreparable harm' Freedom Caucus presses McCarthy to force vote to oust Pelosi The Hill's 12:30 Report - Presented by Goldman Sachs - Tokyo Olympics kick off with 2020-style opening ceremony MORE (D-Calif.) and Senate Majority Leader Charles SchumerChuck SchumerMcConnell pushes vaccines, but GOP muddles his message Biden administration stokes frustration over Canada Schumer blasts McCarthy for picking people who 'supported the big lie' for Jan. 6 panel MORE (D-N.Y.), the 48 groups said they were “troubled by reports that Members of Congress are considering adding new funding for the Department of Defense to forthcoming infrastructure and recovery legislation.”

“It is urgent that Congress focus its efforts to rebuild a U.S. economy fit for the 21st century by increasing opportunities for jobs, healthcare and a green economy, rather than entertaining even a cent more in giveaways to war profiteers and weapons manufacturers, as those dollars are painfully and crucially needed to provide relief to working families of every stripe across the country,” the organizations wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Hill. 

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“We therefore urge you to ensure that no new Pentagon money is included in the forthcoming infrastructure legislation, and that the bill instead focuses squarely on our communities’ most urgent needs,” they added.

The letter was organized by progressive consumer advocacy group Public Citizen in coordination with Win Without War, Working Families Party, National Priorities Project at the Institute for Policy Studies, Coalition for Human Needs and Women’s Action for New Directions.

“Of the many, many sectors of the economy and society that are underfunded, the Pentagon is not among them,” Public Citizen president Robert Weissman said in a statement. “If there are unmet military infrastructure needs, the bloated Pentagon budget is more than enough to attend to them. No way should a dollar be siphoned from bridges, clean water, broadband, child care, poverty reduction, health care, averting catastrophic climate change or other acute needs in order to stuff more money in the Pentagon’s overflowing coffers.”

The letter comes after Democrats on the Senate Budget Committee and Schumer agreed to a $3.5 trillion spending plan to advance some of President BidenJoe BidenBiden authorizes up to 0M for Afghan refugees Poll: 73 percent of Democratic voters would consider voting for Biden in the 2024 primary Biden flexes presidential muscle on campaign trail with Virginia's McAuliffe MORE’s top priorities on climate change, health care costs and other areas.

Details of the agreement remain scarce, but information released so far does not include any Pentagon funding.

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Meanwhile, a bipartisan group of senators is continuing to negotiate a $1.2 trillion infrastructure package.

Earlier this year, a bipartisan group of House lawmakers argued for funding for long-deferred upgrades to shipyards, arsenals, depots and ammunition plants to be included in any upcoming infrastructure package.

“While the Biden infrastructure proposal did not include any request for funding of these facilities, we strongly believe that the quality of these facilities is critical to the broader Biden administration goals of addressing long-standing maintenance backlogs and reducing our dependence on foreign sources of materials,” Reps. Blake Moore (R-Utah) and Cheri BustosCheryl (Cheri) Lea BustosRockford mayor decides against 2022 run for Bustos's House seat Advocacy groups urge Pelosi, Schumer to keep Pentagon funding out of infrastructure bills Nearly 70 House lawmakers ask leadership to reimburse National Guard for Jan. 6 response MORE (D-Ill.), co-chairs of the House Military Depot, Arsenal, Ammunition Plant and Industrial Facilities Caucus, wrote in a June letter to Pelosi.

“Modernizing the organic industrial base plays a crucial role in our efforts to meet the National Defense Strategy and compete with near-peer competitors. Furthermore, each of these facilities has consistently demonstrated a backlog in critical infrastructure needs in testimony before Congress as well as, in some cases, congressionally directed reports,” they added in the letter that was co-signed by a bipartisan group of 12 lawmakers.

Separately, in April, a bipartisan group of senators and House members introduced a bill they hoped could be folded into an infrastructure package to provide $25 billion for maintenance, upgrades and other construction at Navy shipyards.

Earlier this month, progressive Democrats in the House pushed back on those efforts, sending Pelosi and Schumer their own letter arguing against including Pentagon funding in any infrastructure package.

In their letter Friday, the advocacy groups backed the letter from House progressives, arguing that Pentagon money will not help “multiple crises” facing the country.

“We are recovering from a year of record unemployment and housing insecurity, reeling from the loss of loved ones, staggering under the weight of multiplying medical and student loan debt, confronting systemic racism and violent white nationalism, and combating the ongoing climate crisis,” they wrote. “Militarized spending has not solved these problems, and in many ways has made them worse. Every additional dollar allocated to the Pentagon is another dollar that is not being used to address these urgent challenges, and will not provide the relief our communities desperately need.”