Saturday, July 20, 2013

How To Work The Defense Bill-- Buck McKeon And Alan Grayson

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Thursday we saw how Buck McKeon, the Military Industrial Complex's single most bribed politician in American history, forced the Pentagon to waste $2.5 billion on overpriced drones the U.S. military neither needs nor wants. The manufacturer, Northrup Grumman, gives McKeon immense sums of money directly and has promised to keep the McKeon family rolling in cash when ole Buck retires from Congress next year and takes over the armaments lobbying firm his brother and nephews just started. Boehner appointed McKeon to be Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, precisely because he's widely considered one of the most corrupt men in Congress and will direct plenty of war industry money towards needy GOP congressmen. And McKeon founded and chairs the Drone Caucus to make sure he could use it as a cash cow for his own purposes.

When Alan Grayson talks about working on the mammoth Defense Budget, he's on entirely different planet from the corrupt, greed-obsessed McKeon. Grayson is actually working on substantive policy, not bribery schemes. Here's how he explained what he was trying to accomplish to his supporters this week:
Half A Trillion Dollars of Change
by Rep. Alan Grayson


Every year, the U.S. House of Representatives passes a single law that authorizes the spending of a half a trillion dollars. That’s half a trillion, with a “T." Half a trillion, as in five hundred billion dollars. $500,000,000,000.00. Some serious coin.

I’m talking about the spending law for the Defense Department. This spending bill is being written right now. Congress uses this massive spending bill to allocate dollars for every base, every gun used by every U.S. soldier, every military drone, each National Security Agency snooping computer, every defense contract for the military-industrial complex, and each covert and overt war.

When you are a Member of Congress, you can influence how that money is spent-- as long as you can convince a majority of your colleagues to agree with you. Though I’m a Democrat in a Republican-controlled House, I’ve had some luck doing this on other pieces of legislation. I’ve passed seven amendments on the Floor of the House already this year, by persuading my Democratic and Republican colleagues that my ideas are good ideas and worth putting into law.

In other words, even in the Republican-controlled U.S. House of Representatives, even in gridlocked Washington, D.C., if you pay attention and you work hard, you can actually make a difference. And since so many of you donated to my campaign so generously, I don’t have to spend my time begging from lobbyists all day. Instead, because of you, I can spend my time writing good law.

Here are some of the amendments I’m proposing to this massive Defense bill:

A ban on torture;
More money for suicide prevention for American troops;
An end to NSA spying on Americans;
A ban on the funding of video games by the Pentagon;
A ban on the Defense Department naming people killed in a drone strike as “enemy combatants" unless we know for sure they are enemy combatants;
An end to the Pentagon censoring the internet on its internal networks to stop troops from accessing news media sites;
A ban on fees for military families enrolling in military health care;
More money to find a cure for “Gulf War Illness";
A prohibition on the U.S. using the military to pilfer any possible oil resources in Afghanistan;
No defense contracts to companies that are convicted of fraud or bribery;
No defense contracts to companies that lie about their products being made in America; and
No more no-bid defense contracts to foreign corporations.
In all, I’m proposing 20 amendments to this bill. There are 156 amendments in total offered to this bill, by all 435 Members of the House. This means that I am offering roughly one in every eight amendments offered by the ENTIRE U.S. House of Representatives. Will the Republicans let any of them pass? Maybe. In all likelihood, the GOP will block most of them. Most. But even if we pass just one or two, a small shift of priorities in a half-a-trillion-dollar bill is a lot of change.

THAT’S part of what being a True Blue Democrat means. It means getting things done. It means working every angle to make the world a better place. It means trying, trying hard, never surrendering.

And it means, on a bill spending more money for war than we can possibly imagine, working toward peace. That’s what you’ve helped to make possible.

I just thought you’d like to know.

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