Merkley Statement on Defense and Homeland Security Spending Bill

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s U.S. Senator Jeff Merkley issued the following statement after voting against the 2020 spending bill for the Department of Defense and the Department of Homeland Security. Earlier today, he voted for the 2020 spending bill that will fund domestic priorities including health care, wildfire prevention and public lands management, transportation infrastructure, housing, and more.

“Coming to an agreement to fund the government is always a challenging negotiation, and I appreciate the efforts of all of my Appropriations colleagues on both sides of the aisle. They worked hard to craft two bills that could attract bipartisan support, invest in important priorities, and avert a government shutdown.

“Earlier today, I was proud to vote for the bill that will fund important domestic priorities, including health care, transportation, housing, public lands management, and more. I fought to make sure Oregon’s key priorities—like combatting homelessness, preventing and fighting wildfires, and standing up for our coastal jobs—were represented in this bill. I joined the Appropriations Committee to make sure that Oregon had a strong voice when these decisions were being made.

“However, I could not support the second of these two bills, which will primarily fund the Pentagon and the Department of Homeland Security. Unfortunately, this bill does not present the accountability our country needs to rein in wasteful defense spending and to prevent cruel detention policies.

“At a time when our nation should be doing far more to invest in health care, housing, education, and infrastructure, this bill instead invests the better part of a trillion dollars into an already bloated Defense Department. It advances a reckless and wasteful nuclear modernization agenda that risks sparking a new global arms race, and funds many weapons programs at a level beyond even what the President requested.

“Critically, this bill also fails to rein in President Trump’s cruelty agenda aimed at the newest arrivals to our nation. This bill does not provide the accountability we need to stop the family internment camps or his misuse of ICE detention to criminalize families fleeing persecution. We need to keep fighting those battles in order to re-light Lady Liberty’s torch. I will continue to hold this administration accountable when they direct our government to inflict cruelty on children and families.

“For these reasons, I voted ‘no’ on the second funding bill today.”