Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Opposes Defense Bill that Worsens New Cold War and Nuclear Arms Race

December 12, 2019
Press Release
Washington, DC—Yesterday, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) voted against the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act for reasons stated below. The annual defense bill was passed by the House, 377-48, and now goes to the President for his signature.
“Though this bill does include some of the things I have long been fighting for — tackling toxic burn pits, making sure our water aquifer at Red Hill is protected, improving Native Hawaiian-owned business opportunities, and more — the problems with this legislation far outweigh the positives,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “The final language in this bill fails to include a repeal of the 2002 Iraq authorization for use of military force and removed my provision to prohibit the unauthorized use of military force against Iran and Venezuela. It continues to provide support for Saudi Arabia’s genocidal war in Yemen, and expands our nuclear arsenal. This bill provides a stamp of approval for the new cold war and nuclear arms race, pushing us ever closer to the brink of nuclear catastrophe. I refuse to have any part of this and therefore voted against the bill.” 
Background: While the final language in the legislation was very different than what passed out of the House Armed Services Committee, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard was able to secure several provisions in the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), including:
  • Incorporating the Burn Pits Accountability Act language in Section 704 of the bill. This bill requires the Secretary of Defense to record whether servicemembers have been based or stationed at a location where an open burn pit was used or exposed to toxic airborne chemicals and to share this information with the Secretary of Veterans Affairs. 
  • Requiring the Navy to regularly brief the local community for five years regarding its efforts to address environmental concerns about the Red Hill fuel depot on Oahu in Section 376 of the bill
  • Addressing the concerns about the security and environmental threat to the Pacific and world’s oceans posed by the Runit Dome nuclear storage facility in Section 364 of the bill
  • Reinstating an executive order requiring the Director of National Intelligence to submit an annual report to Congress assessing the combatant and non-combatant deaths in strikes on terrorist targets outside areas of active hostilities in Section 1723
  • Preventing funds from being used to knowingly supply weapons or any other form of support to Al Qaeda, the Islamic State, and associated groups in section Section 1228 of the bill
  • Requiring the Secretary of Defense to provide a report to the House Committee on Armed Services regarding its activities and plans with regard to the situation in Syria and withdrawal of U.S. military forces from that country
  • Prioritizing Innovative Readiness Training for non-contiguous States and territories in Section 337 of the bill 
  • Increasing Native Hawaiian, Alaskan, and Native American Defense Department sole-source contracts from $22 million to $100 million
  • Promoting better Defense Department consultation with Native Hawaiian communities regarding ahead of military construction and land lease projects
  • Requiring a report on how the THAAD missile defense system could be incorporated in Hawai‘i and Alaska for a layered ballistic missile defense
  • Requiring a Defense Department report to Congress on the use of different plants as phytoremediator tools to clear contaminants at nuclear sites, and other related toxic areas, including contaminants in soil, water, and air
However, several items she had secured in the House version of the bill were stripped in conference committee, including:
  • Stripping measures that prevent the defense bill from being used as a backdoor authorization for the use of military force against Iran or Venezuela
  • Eliminating a proposed military dental research program that would help address the service-related dental injuries and conditions faced by U.S. troops
  • Eliminating a proposed authorization for infertility treatments for uniformed services members and their spouses
In addition to this, the version of the defense bill voted on today:
  • Continues wasteful war by eliminating a House-passed provision to end the 2002 Iraq Authorization for the Use of Military Force
  • Increased the threat of nuclear war by funding the Low Yield nuclear program — something prohibited in version of the bill passed by the House — and prohibits the reduction of deployed intercontinental ballistic missiles and their alert level
  • Undermined opportunities for peace by allowing the continued export of weapons to support the Saudi-led coalition in Yemen’s civil war, continues limitations on U.S.-Russia military cooperation, and prevents funds from being used to reduce U.S. armed forces on the Korean peninsula in the interest of negotiations to denuclearize the Korean peninsula
  • Further militarizes space by authorizing the creation of a Space Force
  • Retreats from requirement to clean up Per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS)-contaminated communities and industrial water pollution passed by the House and prevents PFAS from being added to the toxic pollutant list in the Federal Water Pollution Control Act
Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been an outspoken leader in Congress to end wasteful regime change wars and follow-on nation building, work to end the new Cold War and nuclear arms race, and to bring U.S. troops home from places like Afghanistan, Syria, and Iraq. She has continued to challenge the Administration’s military support of the Saudi-led coalition involved in Yemen’s civil war. She has introduced a resolution calling for the end to Presidential wars that are not authorized by Congress. She has stood firmly against American nuclear proliferation and supported peaceful efforts to prevent nuclear proliferation in Iran.
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawai‘i’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for 16 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
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