Friends Committee on National Legislation – 2013-01-11 01:03:58
Take Time to Celebrate:
$1 Trillion in Pentagon Cuts Still on the Table
Friends Committee on National Legislation
WASHINGTON, DC (January 8, 2013) — Congress did something extraordinary at the beginning of this year. Despite intense pressure from military contractors and billions of dollars spent by defense lobbyists, our elected officials left in place deep cuts in Pentagon spending.
At this point last year, most of our lobbyists expected Congress would reverse the deep cuts in Pentagon spending unless something big happened. Something big did happen. You mobilized to call for Pentagon cuts, and they’re still on the table today. Right now, lobbyists for Pentagon contractors are wondering what went wrong. After their millions in lobbying, they haven’t seen any results. They didn’t count on the grassroots advocacy of people like you.
Now we need to keep up the momentum! Make sure that your member of Congress knows where you stand on Pentagon cuts — send them a message today.
Take Time to Celebrate:
$1 Trillion in Pentagon Cuts Still on the Table
Jim Cason / Friends Committee on National Legislation
(January 8, 2013) — Congress did something extraordinary at the beginning of this year. Despite intense pressure from military contractors and billions of dollars spent by defense lobbyists, our elected officials left in place deep cuts in Pentagon spending. If you had polled FCNL lobbyists a year ago, almost none would have predicted that Congress would pass legislation that retained these cuts.
But this struggle to rein in runaway Pentagon spending isnâ€™t over yet. The last-minute, end-of-year budget deal Congress approved on January 1 put off the cuts in Pentagon spending by two months. While the deal keeps the US on track to reduce the planned growth in military spending by $1 trillion over the next 10 years, Congress will return to this debate over the next two months. Their decision-making isn’t over.
You may be wondering why Iâ€™m celebrating, when the “fiscal cliff” deal that Congress cut with the president is so messy and when — by almost any measure — Pentagon spending is at a historic high.
But this legislation might have been far worse. Just a few weeks ago, the House voted 215 to 209 to restore money for the Pentagon while making harsh new cuts in domestic spending.
What’s more, the lobbying that I saw to prevent cuts in Pentagon spending was intense. Military contractors, Pentagon officials and some very powerful members of Congress on key committees worked hard to prevent deep cuts in Pentagon spending. As FCNL reported earlier this year, Pentagon contractors spent $49 million to keep cuts from happening just in the first nine months of last year.
Yet when the dust settled, the core parts of the Budget Control Act of 2011 that would cut Pentagon spending by $1 trillion over the next decade remain in place.
A Big Victory for Your Lobbying
“The fact that they didn’t act to block the cuts in Pentagon spending is a big victory,” Ruth told us at our staff meeting Monday. And I agree.
Your lobbying, together with lobbying of tens of thousands of other people around the country and our focused efforts here in Washington helped keep cuts in Pentagon spending on the negotiating table. And you did more than that. You proved that organized people around the country can out-organize and out-lobby organized money.
More Work to Do
We should take time to celebrate this victory, But we also have more to do. Congress will revisit this decision again in late February or early March. Reading the public statements of members of Congress and some lobbyists, we can already predict that there will be new efforts to restore money for the Pentagon while cutting spending on programs that protect those with low incomes and other vulnerable people.
Yet this new year also brings new opportunities. House Majority Leader John Boehner (OH) told the Wall Street Journal this week that he can live with the $1 trillion cut in Pentagon spending. The Washington Post‘s Ezra Klein pointed out that despite all the rhetoric, the Pentagon cuts aren’t as scary as Pentagon contractors are making them out to be. And many of you have newly elected members of Congress who you can talk with about why Pentagon spending cuts are a moral imperative and fiscally responsible.
So this week I encourage you to take some time to celebrate what you did last year. Thank others in your community who helped you in these efforts. And then make your plans to meet with your members of Congress when theyâ€™re home in February to encourage them to keep cuts in the Pentagon budget in place.
16 Faith Groups Call for Cuts to Pentagon (December 18, 2012)
Dear Members of Congress,
As representatives from the faith community, we write urging you to remember the importance of restraining Pentagon spending as you address our national spending priorities.
In these final crucial moments leading up to the “fiscal cliff,” it is critical that further cuts to the Pentagon remain on the table and that no further cuts are made to non-defense discretionary spending.
In a budget environment where military spending has doubled since 1998 while other areas of spending have barely kept pace with inflation, we cannot afford to spare Pentagon spending from cuts while placing further burden on programs that provide medical attention for the elderly, food-aid for those who are struggling to survive, or address other critical aspects of human security.
We believe budget decisions should reflect our values, and a broad range of studies demonstrate clearly that we can further cut Pentagon spending without harming our national security. Analysts from across the political spectrum have released reports detailing a range of concrete options for cutting.
The Pentagon can cut an additional $500 billion to $1 trillion over the next decade without harming US security. Every dollar we spend on unnecessary weapons designed to fight the wars of 30 years ago is a dollar that could be spent to educate our children, train our future workforce or rebuild a crumbling bridge.
With Pentagon spending making up more than half of the discretionary budget, we ask that the Pentagon pay its fair share and absorb at least half of the spending cuts put forward in any deficit reduction deal, while ensuring the protection of programs for the poorest among us in this country and around the world.
We also ask that there remain an impenetrable wall between Pentagon spending and domestic safety net support.
Our fiscal decisions must be rooted in the values of justice and compassion — values reflected in our faith traditions as well as the Constitution, in which we commit ourselves to the “general welfare” of our citizens. As you face some of the most difficult budgeting challenges in our nation’s history, we urge you to transcend political expedience and take steps now to responsibly restrain Pentagon spending.
Africa Faith & Justice Network (AFJN)
American Friends Service Committee (AFSC)
Bread for the World
Church of the Brethren
Conference of Major Superiors of Men (CMSM)
Franciscan Action Network
Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL)
Islamic Society of North America
National Campaign for a Peace Tax Fund
Leadership Conference of Women Religious
Mennonite Central Committee US Washington Office
National Council of Jewish Women
NETWORK, A National Catholic Social Justice Lobby
Sisters of Mercy of the Americas, Institute Justice Team
United Church of Christ, Justice and Witness Ministries
United Methodist Church, General Board of Church and Society
January 22, Washington, DC: FCNL Open House the day after the Inauguration. RSVP to firstname.lastname@example.org.
February 5: FCNL is joining with other faith groups to call for a national call-in day on gun violence.
February 18-22: Presidentâ€™s Day recess – Lobby your member of Congress on the federal budget.
March 16-19, Washington, DC: Spring Lobby Weekend 2013 – Join young adults from across the country to lobby Congress on climate change’s link to deadly conflict.