Just three senators voted against a bill to increase authorized defense spending Tuesday: Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders, and Oregon senators [crscore]Ron Wyden[/crscore] and [crscore]Jeff Merkley[/crscore].
The $607 billion bill lines up with the budget agreement recently reached between Congress and President Obama that includes increased defense spending, and was approved by overwhelming majorities in both the House (370-58) and Senate (91-3).
Sanders voted against the bill in protest of increasing the defense budget, referring to the Pentagon as a “bloated” agency that contributes to government waste, fraud, abuse and excessive spending.
“The Department of Defense is the only federal agency that cannot pass a clean audit,” Sanders said in a statement explaining his vote. “Many of its major acquisition programs suffer from chronic cost overruns. Virtually every defense contractor has been found guilty or has reached a settlement with the government because of fraudulent and illegal activities.”
The authorization bill includes new retirement benefits for service members, reforms to the Pentagon’s acquisition system and funds for assistance to Ukraine. It also prevents the transfer of Guantanamo Bay detainees to U.S. soil, in opposition to Obama’s ongoing effort to close the prison.
Wyden did not release a statement explaining his vote. Asked for comment, a spokesman for his office told The Daily Caller News Foundation the senator would “have a tweet shortly.”
“I voted No on a military bill with too much money & too little accountability,” Wyden tweeted Tuesday. “Need to cut wasteful $$, close Gitmo & audit the Pentagon.”
I voted No on a military bill with too much money & too little accountability. Need to cut wasteful $$, close Gitmo & audit the Pentagon
— Ron Wyden (@RonWyden) November 10, 2015
Merkley did not release a statement explaining his vote or immediately respond to multiple requests for comment.
Republican senators and presidential candidates [crscore]Ted Cruz[/crscore], [crscore]Lindsey Graham[/crscore], [crscore]Marco Rubio[/crscore] and [crscore]Rand Paul[/crscore] did not vote, in addition to Republicans [crscore]Dean Heller[/crscore] and [crscore]David Vitter[/crscore].
Congress has until Dec. 11 to pass a bill appropriating the funds, when current funds for the DoD run out.
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