Does campaign cash from the arms industry matter?

Speaking Security Newsletter | Advisory Note for Organizers and Candidates, n°110 | 3 September 2021

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Situation

The House and Senate armed services committees (HASC/SASC) have now advanced the annual military policy bill (the ‘NDAA’). The House committee advanced it earlier this week, the Senate committee did on July 22.

Between the two panels, only 3 members of Congress voted against both the ~$25 billion plus-up amendment and the final version of the committee bill. From the Senate committee, Elizabeth Warren; from the House committee, Ro Khanna and Sara Jacobs.

Two other senators voted against the final version, but only Warren voted for the topline increase. Plenty of House committee members voted against the topline increase, but only Khanna and Jacobs voted against the NDAA after the amendment was adopted.

Prediction

Among SASC members, Sen. Warren took the second-lowest amount of campaign cash from military contractors. Reps. Khanna and Jacobs are at or near the bottom of HASC recipients, too. We can expect this to be a microcosm of how the Senate and House will vote on the final version of the NDAA, at least when comparing votes to campaign cash over the last four years.

Analysis

I looked at how 364 active House members voted on NDAAs over the last four years and compared it to how much each of them took from military contractors during the previous election cycle (so for the 2018/2019 NDAA votes I looked at campaign finance data for the 2017-2018 election cycle; for the 2020/2021 NDAA votes I referred to 2019-2020 election data).

The count wasn’t as large for the (FY)2018/2019 NDAAs as it was for the 2020/2021 iterations, but the sample size seemed fine: 1,282 votes in total across four years/bills.

Results are what you’d expect. When I used the median I got the same ratio.

*To be sure, many members accept few campaign contributions from this sector and still support military budget increases. Different story for the ones who take a lot of industry cash, however: they pretty much always vote like shit.

Thanks for your time,

Stephen (@stephensemler; stephen@securityreform.org)

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