The worst 29 Senate Democrats on military spending during the Trump administration, a breakdown

Speaking Security Newsletter | Advisory Note for Organizers and Candidates, n°63 | 1 January 2021

I wanted to see how Senate Democrats voted on military spending under Trump so I looked at all the NDAA votes over the last four years.

  • The 8 votes I looked at: 2018 NDAA, Senate version; 2019 NDAA, Senate & final versions; 2020 NDAA, Senate & final versions; and 2021 NDAA, Senate and final versions, plus the veto override. The 2018 NDAA final version was passed via voice vote in the Senate, hence its exclusion.

  • You can see the House version of this study, here.

  • If you find this type of research useful, you can support my think tank (SPRI), here.

Top line stats

  • Of the 47 Democrats in the Senate right now (including Sanders, Mark Kelly, and Doug Jones), 34 never voted against a Trump-era NDAA. Of those, 29 were in office for the duration of the Trump administration.

  • Military expenditures were $598 billion in fiscal year 2017 (this figure was delimited by Obama’s last NDAA). It’ll likely be over $750 billion in fiscal year 2021.

  • Had military spending been frozen at $598 billion for fiscal years 2018-21, the US would have spent ~$400 billion less on the military under Trump.

  • $400 billion = 200,000,000 relief checks (worth $2,000).


^Data via Open Secrets, cash total includes campaign and PAC contributions received from 2015-20.


Senators Jeff Merkley (OR), Ron Wyden (OR), and Bernie Sanders (VT). These three rejected Trump-era military budgets with every NDAA vote they cast over the last four years.

Senators Edward Markey (MA) and Elizabeth Warren (MA) both voted the wrong way on the 2018 NDAA vote, but otherwise voted fine on Trump-era NDAAs.

^Those are the only five Democrat senators who voted responsibly more than 80 percent of the time on Trump’s military budgets.

One difference between the best and worst Senate Democrats

On average, the 29 worst Senate Democrats accepted over seven times the amount of war industry cash as the 3 best (Merkley, Wyden, Sanders) since 2015 ($235,847 to $31,896).

Thanks for your time,

Stephen (@stephensemler;

Find this note useful? Please consider becoming a supporter of SPRI. Unlike establishment think tanks, we rely exclusively on small donations.