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Senators Have Ideas for Cutting the Military Budget

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You might not know it from national press reports, but there are plenty of Members of Congress of both political parties who think that cutting the military budget is a perfectly reasonable thing to do, and have concrete ideas for doing so.

(The New York Times did note last week that the leaderships of both parties are content to let stand the automatic cuts to the previously projected military budget mandated by the Budget Control Act.)

You can see that senators have ideas for cutting the military budget from the list of amendments filed in the Senate to the National Defense Authorization Act, currently under consideration. [To weigh in with your senators on these amendments, you can use the toll-free number established by the Friends Committee on National Legislation: 1-877-429-0678.]

Even if many of these amendments don't pass in the next few days, these ideas will still be nominees for consideration as the Pentagon considers how it wishes to cough up an additional half trillion dollars in savings from previously projected spending over the next ten years, as mandated by the Budget Control Act.

Here is a partial list of amendments of interest to those who wish to cut the military budget (culled from a longer list of amendments compiled by the Council for a Livable World). The first two -- accelerated military withdrawal from Afghanistan and establishing a commission on the closing of foreign military bases -- are my personal favorites. Regarding the latter, I especially hope that the establishment of such a foreign-bases-closing-commission will help strike the death blow for the hated Futenma base in Okinawa -- a base whose planned relocation in Okinawa a Japanese defense official recently compared to rape.

Afghanistan: Merkley (D-OR), Baucus (D-MT), Bingaman (D-NM), Brown (D-OH), Cardin (D-MD), Conrad (D-ND), Durbin (D-IL), Gillibrand (D-NY), Harkin (D-IA), Leahy (D-VT), Lee (R-UT), Manchin (D-WV), Paul (R-KY), Rockefeller (D-WV), Sanders (D-VT), Schumer (D-NY), Udall (D-NM) and Whitehouse (D-RI) amendment No. 1174 (and several variations) to urge an accelerated withdrawal of U.S. forces from Afghanistan.

American bases overseas: Tester (D-MT) and Hutchison (R-TX) amendment No. 1145, corresponding to their bill S. 1733 to establish a commission to consider closing overseas military bases.

Spending in Afghanistan: McCaskill (D-MO) amendment No. 1430 to limit spending on capital projects in Afghanistan.

Reduce the funding: Paul (R-KY) amendment No. 1268 to reduce the topline (non-war) number in the bill by 1% to $559.5 billion. He also has amendment No. 1270 to reduce the bill by 2% to $553.9 billion.

Cluster munitions: Feinstein (D-CA) and Leahy (D-VT) amendment No. 1252 to bar the use of most cluster munitions.

Troops in Europe: Sessions (R-AL) amendment No. 1182 to limit U.S. combat brigades permanently station in Europe to two, compared to four now, effective January 1, 2016.

Auditing Pentagon books: Paul (R-KY) amendment No. 1063 to require the Pentagon to have its books ready for an audit by September 30, 2014. Ayotte (R-NH) has a related amendment No. 1066. McCain (D-AZ), Levin (D-MI) and Ayotte (R-NH) have a related amendment No. 1132.

AFRICOM headquarters: Paul (R-KY) amendment No. 1136 to bar placing AFRICOM headquarters outside of continental U.S. Hutchison (R-TX) has a related amendment No. 1232 that is a sense of the Senate resolution.

Chemical weapons: Wyden (D-OR) amendment No. 1160 to close the Umatilla Army Chemical Depot in Oregon.