Why Did Bernie Sanders Vote to Fund the Iraq War?

Sanders-military budget

Last night on Facebook, I was asked this question after I posted the above meme:

If Sanders is so against the bloated military budget, why does he keep voting in favor of it?

My knee-jerk answer was essentially, “nuance,” i.e., defense spending gets tied to other things. I did a little research, and then answered a little more coherently:

“Consider HR 2642. It contained an expansion of GI Bill benefits that he co-sponsored. But it was attached to Iraq War funding, so he voted yea. I should point that the HR 2642 I’m talking about was from 2008, and is but one example of this apparent contradiction between Sanders’ rhetoric and voting record. I think that he’s actually quite consistent between record and rhetoric when viewed in the milieu of the tit-for-tat, compromise world of Congress. A good analysis that confirms my first impression above can be found here…”

And then a link to this excellent article below…(also discovered that Sanders is quite pro-veteran and in fact was given the Congressional Award by the VFW in March of this year):

People's War

Michael Arria’s widely read but rarely analyzed Alternet article “Bernie Sanders’ Troubling History of Supporting US Military Violence Abroad” mentions in passing:

“While it’s true he voted against the Iraq War, he also voted in favor of authorizing funds for that war and the one in Afghanistan.”

Arria’s statement is correct but also distorts Sanders’ stance on funding the Iraq war by omission. His voting record on the bills that funded the Iraq war show that he voted against them more often than he voted for them. Additionally, his ‘yea’ votes show that there were other considerations at play.

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About eggsistense

Writer, musician, cartoonist, human being
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One Response to Why Did Bernie Sanders Vote to Fund the Iraq War?

  1. PW says:

    Thanks for reblogging this 🙂

    H.R. 2642 is a particularly good example of why an absolutist approach (“why didn’t X vote against Y if he has stance Z?”) fails when it comes to matter of legislation, especially appropriations bills, which are often jam-packed with good, progressive, and supportable measures along with an equal number of bad, reactionary, and horrendous measures. The Post-9/11 G.I. bill was originally a separate piece of legislation that Senator Jim Webb introduced, but to get the thing actually passed into law (back then Bush was still president), he had to add the G.I. bill as an amendment to a much bigger spending bill that would avoid a veto by President Bush (who opposed the benefits package) and garner support from enough of both houses of Congress to make it to Bush’s desk.

    Voting against H.R. 2642 as the absolutists wanted would have not only been voting against this major expansion of benefits for veterans but also emergency food assistance to Third World countries (among other things). So veterans would have been screwed and Third World people would have gone hungry for the sake of checking off the “anti-war enough” box on some (sl)activist scorecard. Hardly progressive!

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