Disastrous NDAA: “near complete capitulation”

The National Defense Authorization Act bill negotiated by Rep. Adam Smith and passed by the House Dec 11, 2019 (377 to 48) was an almost total sellout to the the MIC and the Republicans.

The NY Times article House Passes $738 Billion Military Bill With Space Force and Parental Leave says:

Mr. Trump appeared to regard the deal with a measure of amazement on Wednesday before the vote. “Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA,” he wrote on Twitter, using an acronym for the National Defense Authorization Act.

Even accounting for the president’s habitual dishonesty and hyperbole, the NDAA was clearly not a win for Democrats.

According to Democrats ‘got completely rolled’ in NDAA talks, critics say, “A coalition of 31 liberal organizations representing disarmament, human rights and other causes said in a statement Tuesday that the NDAA outcome is ‘a near complete capitulation’ in checking the Trump administration’s military policies.” Rep. Ro Khanna issued a joint statement with Sen. Bernie Sanders, calling the NDAA “a bill of astonishing moral cowardice.” Republicans are jubilant (IBID).

The  Friends Committee on National Legislation (a Quaker Lobby in the Public Interest) sent out an email in opposition to the bill.

Peace activist and Nobel Peace Prize nominee David Swanson wrote House Compromises Away Peace, Senate Stands By War, which offers more detail about the failed amendments.

Likewise, Medea Benjamin of CodePink is calling on activists to ask their members of Congress to vote against the NDAA: “Senator Sanders and Representative Ro Khanna have announced that they will vote no and are asking others to join them. Call 1-833-STOP-WAR now to tell your Representatives to vote NO. Then send an email to Speaker Pelosi telling her to use her position in the House to do everything that she can to block the NDAA.”

Rep. Smith claims that the bill was “the most progressive defense bill we have passed in decades,” citing paid parental leave and elimination of the so-called widow’s tax.

But on every anti-war amendment, the Dems caved in. The agreed-to Space Force alone will launch an arms race that will cost trillions of dollars and risk human civilization.   Stopping support for the Saudi wars, arms control of tactical nukes, preventing war with Iran, revocation of the AUMF, transgender rights, strong regulation of PFAS chemicals, reining in wall funding — all were lost.  See The Dems caved in on important NDAA amendments.

Moreover, Rep. Smith touts paid family leave, but the NYTimes article above says that paid parental leave was championed by Ivanka Trump. Furthermore,

“In the case of the White House, they wanted both [the Space Force and paid parental leave],” said Senator Kevin Cramer, a North Dakota Republican and key ally of Mr. Trump’s who sits on the Armed Services Committee and has been a vocal backer of Space Force. “At the end of the day, the president gets two victories.”

(To be fair, Rep. Smith claims that Senator Cramer is misinformed and that the Republicans agreed to paid parental leave only under intense pressure. )

“About three-dozen progressive and anti-war groups worked hard to stop this NDAA and called the Democrats support for it ‘near complete capitulation.’” (source: The Very Bad Space Force Deal)

The Nation has a powerful and depressing opinion piece that criticizes the Democratic leaderships’ support for the NDAA given their impeachment efforts:

The impeachment vote came one day after the Senate sent Trump a $738 billion Pentagon budget. The measure includes the creation of a key Trump priority, the Space Force, along with carte blanche to continue supporting Saudi mass murder in Yemen. Democrats in both chambers joined with Republicans to pass the bill in what Senator Bernie Sanders and Representative Ro Khanna called “an astonishing act of moral cowardice” and a “complete capitulation to the White House.”

It is difficult to believe that the Democrats see Trump as a threat to national security or beholden to Russia when they capitulate to his top policy preferences, particularly ones that boost the lethal military arsenal under his control. In reality, the Democratic leadership’s playbook of discredited Russia conspiracy theories, Cold Warrior jingoism, and White House capitulation results from the dynamic that they have embraced since the 2016 election: challenging Trump through any means that does not fundamentally challenge the political and economic system that grants them power and privilege.

What are the Dems trying to do? Hand Trump a big victory so he wins in 2020?

Relevant links and documentation:
Trump’s full tweet: “Wow! All of our priorities have made it into the final NDAA: Pay Raise for our Troops, Rebuilding our Military, Paid Parental Leave, Border Security, and Space Force!. Congress ― don’t delay this anymore! I will sign this historic defense legislation immediately!”

According to the final House Roll Call vote, more Republicans than Democrats voted in favor of the NDAA.

188 Dems voted Yea;
189 Republicans voted Yea.

41 of of the 48 Nays were Democrats.   Centrist Dems allied with Repubs.
  S 1790      YEA-AND-NAY      11-Dec-2019      5:38 PM
QUESTION:  On Agreeing to the Conference Report
BILL TITLE: National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2020

Yeas Nays PRES NV
Democratic 188 41 3
Republican 189 6 2
Independent 1
TOTALS 377 48   5


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