All across America last week, citizens wrote their members of Congress to support an amendment offered by unlikely allies -- Republican freshman Mick Mulvaney and retiring Democrat Barney Frank. Groups as ideologically diverse as the Tea Party WDC, and the National Taxpayers Union, and CODEPINK, and Campaign for America's Future, joined the Project On Government Oversight in urging that sanity be restored to fiscal stewardship at the Pentagon.
The message from the right, left and all points in between was clear: It's time to end runaway Pentagon spending.
The Mulvaney-Frank amendment freezes Pentagon spending at current levels, except for military personnel, the Defense Health Program, and the overseas contingency operations. It cuts $1.1 billion from the defense budget authorized by the House Armed Services Committee. By strongly supporting the amendment, the House showed that even in this era of bitter, divisive politics, common sense and reason can still prevail.
Mulvaney, Frank, and the 245 other Democrats and Republicans who voted in favor of the cut deserve praise for taking a stand, even as the chairman of the House Armed Services Committee tried vainly to use scare tactics and false narratives to protect his friends in the private defense industry.
The vote represents a critical turning point in Congressional spending trends and a show of unified support for reform not seen in many years. However, the Mulvaney-Frank amendment's budgetary effect will be modest -- if enacted, the defense budget will still be higher than what the Pentagon requested. It will also still be higher than the caps Congress agreed to last year in the Budget Control Act.
So, though last week's vote was an important moment, it's just a first step towards putting the Pentagon's house in order. The Pentagon budget still contains tens of billions of dollars wasted on ineffective and unnecessary programs.
The American people expect better. The message was delivered loud and clear last week.
Danielle Brian is the executive director at the Project On Government Oversight. This article was adapted from a statement she released last week.