Skip to Content

Wyden, Merkley vote no on defense spending bill

U.S. Capitol
KTVZ file

Despite including 15 Wyden provisions; Merkley cites removal of drinking water provisions

WASHINGTON (KTVZ) -- Sens. Ron Wyden and Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., voted against a massive defense policy bill Tuesday, opposing what he called "the measure’s misplaced priorities, including $740 billion in military spending, the creation of Donald Trump’s Space Force, and its failure to end U.S. support for Saudi Arabia’s brutal war in Yemen, overturn Trump’s ban on transgender troops or block the trumped-up emergency at the border."

“While this bill contains a number of worthwhile provisions, including more than a dozen that I authored, ultimately I had to oppose this $740 billion behemoth of military spending. I cannot in good conscience vote for legislation that continues our country’s legacy of runaway defense spending and endless foreign wars,” Wyden said. “Congress needs put the needs of the American people ahead of defense contractors and Trump’s wasteful fake emergency at the border.”

Although Wyden voted against the overall bill, he praised the inclusion of 15 Wyden provisions he previously secured in the Intelligence Authorization Act, to protect whistleblowers, target Russian money laundering, shore up weakness in wireless networks and an unclassified report about who was responsible for the murder of Jamal Khashoggi.

The combined Fiscal Year 2018-2020 bill includes 15 Wyden provisions:

  1. Requiring reporting on the national security implications of the adoption of foreign 5G technology. The provision also requires the DNI to report on possible mitigation efforts, including U.S. efforts to promote the use of strong encryption and open-source technology. 
  2. Requiring reporting on cybersecurity and surveillance threats to Congress. The provision addresses a key counterintelligence concern by obtaining information on cyber attacks and espionage against U.S. Senators. 
  3. Requiring an unclassified report identifying those who carried out, participated in, ordered or were otherwise complicit in or responsible for the death of Jamal Khashoggi. 
  4. Codifying an appeals process for IC whistleblowers who have been reprised against. This provision is necessary to protect whistleblowers and ensure that waste, fraud and abuse are reported. 
  5. Requiring harmonization of whistleblower processes and procedures. Currently, whistleblowers face a confusing set of disparate procedures across the IC. The amendment will assist whistleblowers by harmonizing those procedures with an aim to maximizing transparency and whistleblower protections. 
  6. Improving oversight of Inspector Generals’ treatment of whistleblowers. This provision allows the Intelligence Community Inspector General to track whistleblower complaints and ensure that policies are in place that assure that investigations are conducted and whistleblowers are protected from reprisals. 
  7. Assisting whistleblowers with access to cleared attorneys. This provision requires a report and recommendations so that whistleblowers with classified concerns can be represented.
  8. Requiring a report on the threat to the United States from Russian money laundering. The provision directs the intelligence agencies to work with the Treasury Department’s Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence to assess the scope and threat of Russian money laundering to the United States. 
  9. Requiring Congressional notification before the establishment of any U.S.-Russia cybersecurity unit, including a report on what intelligence will be shared with the Russians, any counterintelligence concerns and how those concerns would be mitigated. 
  10. Requiring a report from the Intelligence Community on whether cybersecurity vulnerabilities in the U.S. cell network, including known vulnerabilities to SS7, are resulting in foreign government surveillance of Americans. 
  11. Prohibiting Intelligence Community officials who are nominated for Senate-confirmed positions from making declassification decisions about themselves. The decisions would be made by the Director of National Intelligence. 
  12. Removing the cap on the number of state election officials with security clearances, to better prepare for future threats to election systems. 
  13. Establishing new cybersecurity protections for Intelligence Community officials’ personal devices. 
  14. Requiring a study on encrypting the Intelligence Community’s unclassified communications. 
  15. Requiring a report on protecting the confidentiality of whistleblowers’ communications during ongoing security clearance evaluations. 

Here's Sen. Merkley's news release:

Merkley Votes Against NDAA, Slams Last-Minute Removal of Provisions to Protect Americans from Dangerous Drinking Water

Millions of Americans are potentially at risk of drinking water contaminated with PFAS, a dangerous class of chemicals that can cause cancer, birth defects, and more

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Oregon’s Senator Jeff Merkley released the following statement after voting against the final National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2020. Previous versions of the bill contained provisions to take on the issue of PFAS water contamination, which currently threatens millions of Americans’ drinking water supply. Many of the bipartisan PFAS provisions contained in the Senate version of the legislation were stripped out of the final bill, despite the fact that PFAS is known to be dangerous to human health and has been linked to cancer, birth defects, and other serious health effects.  

“While this bill contains many positive provisions, I voted against today’s bill for a multitude of reasons. First, this bill does nothing to take on wasteful defense spending. We can provide the world-class equipment and support that our troops deserve, while at the same time providing the accountability and scrutiny that would enable us to invest more here at home in health care, housing, education, and infrastructure. This bill fails to do so. It also stripped out an important House provision reasserting Congress’s role in declaring war, and leaves open a path to this administration pursuing a disastrous and unauthorized war with Iran. And it does nothing to constrain the U.S. development of a low-yield nuclear warhead, a costly and reckless project that could spark a new nuclear arms race.

“I am also deeply disturbed that the final version of this bill does little to truly address the PFAS contamination that represents an urgent public health threat across our nation. The Senate passed a version of this bill with bipartisan support for taking on PFAS contamination in our drinking water supply and for listing all 4,000 PFAS as hazardous substances under the Superfund law. It is wholly unacceptable that Congress decided to shelve this issue when we had a clear path to take action. While Congress delays, millions of Americans will continue drinking water that could put them and their children at higher risk for cancer, birth defects, and other devastating health outcomes. Taking the most impactful PFAS provisions out of this bill represents a massive failure and a dereliction of duty on the part of Congress.”

Article Topic Follows: News

Jump to comments ↓

KTVZ news sources


KTVZ NewsChannel 21 is committed to providing a forum for civil and constructive conversation.

Please keep your comments respectful and relevant. You can review our Community Guidelines by clicking here

If you would like to share a story idea, please submit it here.

Skip to content