July 23, 2020

Wyden Votes No on Defense Policy Bill

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Ron Wyden, D-Ore., today issued the following statement after voting against the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) in light of the federal occupation in Portland, Ore.:

“I cannot, in good conscience, vote in support of this bill while federal agents occupy my hometown and put Oregonians at risk, all to sell a lie that liberal cities are overrun by anarchists. These occupying forces have made Portland far more volatile and more dangerous. Federal agents have already shot a protestor in the head with crowd-control munitions, sending him to the hospital with a fractured skull, and abducted demonstrators in unmarked vans without identifying themselves. Senator Merkley and I introduced an amendment this week that would have required Donald Trump to remove these unwanted forces from our state. Unfortunately, Sen. McConnell blocked this amendment from being considered. Regardless, I will keep fighting in the Senate against Trump’s authoritarian tactics in Oregon and across America.”

Beyond the federal chaos in Portland, Wyden opposed the substance of the defense policy bill as he has for years:

“Even before the federal occupation of Portland, this bill was already fatally flawed. It greenlights a whopping $740 billion in military spending at a time when Senate Republicans are proposing mere crumbs for aid to schools and unemployed workers in the midst of a global pandemic and economic crisis. And then there are the omissions. The Senate rejected an important amendment from my colleague Senator Brian Schatz that would’ve restricted the militarization of America’s law enforcement. And it is inexcusable that the bill would do nothing to end Trump’s phony emergency at the border, prevent an unconstitutional war against Iran or take the prosecution of military sexual assault out of the chain of command. This last omission is particularly troubling in light of the recent, tragic murder of Vanessa Guillén.

“I am proud, however, that my amendments to strengthen encryption efforts at the Department of Defense and finish the cleanup of the now-closed Umatilla Chemical Depot were included in the final Senate NDAA bill. Those are two critical wins for American national security and the safety of Oregonians. I am also encouraged that the Senate has put in motion a plan to root out Confederate names and symbols from the military, even if that plan takes far longer than necessary. Doing away with these symbols of hate is long overdue, and I hope the provision is strengthened in the final bill.”