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‘Atrocious’: 188 Democrats join GOP to hand Trump $738 billion military budget that includes ‘Space Force’

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“It is Orwellian for Congress to hand over billions of dollars worth of weapons and bombs to a president waging a horrific, unconstitutional war in Yemen—and call that progressive.”

More than 180 House Democrats joined a nearly united Republican caucus Wednesday night to pass a sweeping $738 billion military spending bill that gives President Donald Trump his long-sought “Space Force,” free rein to wage endless wars, and a green light to continue fueling the humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen.

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“Every member of Congress who voted to give the most corrupt, unhinged, and unstable president in history $738 billion to fight endless wars…must never tell us that we cannot afford Medicare for All or a Green New Deal.”
—Warren Gunnels, Sanders senior adviser

Just 48 members of the House, including 41 Democrats, voted against the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which increases the Pentagon budget by $22 billion. The final vote was 377-48.

“This NDAA is atrocious, and it’s very depressing that only 48 members of congress voted against it,” tweeted anti-war group CodePink.

In a floor speech ahead of Wednesday’s vote, Rep. Ro Khanna (D-Calif.), the most vocal opponent of the NDAA in the House, said “there are many things you can call the bill, but it’s Orwellian to call it progressive.” Khanna was standing across the aisle from Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), who hailed the measure as “the most progressive defense bill we have passed in decades.”

“Let’s speak in facts,” said Khanna. “This defense budget is $120 billion more than what Obama left us with. That could fund free public college for every American. It could fund access to high-speed, affordable internet for every American. But it’s worse. The bipartisan amendment to stop the war in Yemen: stripped by the White House. The bipartisan amendment to stop the war in Iran: stripped by the White House.”

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According to the New York Times, Smith—chairman of the House Armed Services Committee—negotiated several provisions of the NDAA directly with Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser.

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“It was Mr. Kushner who helped broker a deal to create the Space Force, a chief priority of the president’s, in exchange for the paid parental leave [for federal employees],” the Times reported Wednesday. “It was also Mr. Kushner who intervened on measures targeting Saudi Arabia that would have prohibited arms sales or military assistance to the Saudi-led intervention in Yemen. He said they were nonstarters for the White House.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-Vt.) foreign policy adviser Matt Duss expressed outrage that Democrats allowed Kushner—who has close ties to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman—to kill an amendment that would have helped end U.S. complicity in the world’s worst humanitarian crisis.

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Rep. Barbara Lee (D-Calif.), who voted against the NDAA, noted in a statement that the final version also stripped out her House-passed amendment that would have repealed the 2002 Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF).

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“With the release of the Afghanistan Papers, it is especially imperative that we take a hard look at our military spending and authorizations,” said Lee, the only member of Congress to vote against the war in Afghanistan in 2001. “I can tell you: it is an appalling, but not shocking read for those of us who have been working to stop endless war. It’s past time to end the longest war in United States history, withdraw our troops, and bring our servicemembers home.”

The 2020 NDAA now heads to the Republican-controlled Senate, where it is expected to pass. In a tweet ahead of the House vote on Wednesday, Trump praised the bill and said he would sign it into law “immediately.”

“New rule: Every member of Congress who voted to give the most corrupt, unhinged, and unstable president in history $738 billion to fight endless wars, fund a bogus space force, and put our troops at risk must never tell us that we cannot afford Medicare for All or a Green New Deal,” Warren Gunnels, Sanders’ senior adviser, tweeted Wednesday night. “Ever.”

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‘What’s the plan?’: CNN’s Tapper goes off on Trump for leaving Americans wondering how many will die in the COVID-19 pandemic

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"State of the Union" host Jake Tapper ended his Sunday CNN show with an impassioned direct address to Donald Trump bluntly asking if the president has any plan at all on how to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic and stop the avalanche of infections and deaths.

Speaking directly to the camera and saying that he knew the president was watching, the CNN host got right down to it.

"If I can take a moment, I would like to speak directly to one person known to watch this show or at least clips of the show, President Trump," he began. "Mr. President, I know you, like millions of Americans, are eager to have the nation go back to some semblance of normal. One of the questions the American people need answered for that to happen responsibly is: what's the plan?"

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COVID-19

‘Either survive or die’: Fox News doc says it’s time for COVID-19 patients to ‘come off’ ventilators

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Fox News medical contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier on Sunday said COVID-19 patients would soon need to be removed from ventilators even if they cannot breathe on their own.

"There's going to be more deaths this coming week," Saphier said on Fox & Friends. "The reason I try and explain that to people is although our rates of hospitalization are going down, that is a good thing."

"But we're going to start seeing more deaths," she continued. "Because the people that are having to be in the ICU on the ventilators, they are being kept on the ventilators from anywhere one to four weeks."

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‘A completely false narrative’: Defense secretary Epser snaps at CNN’s Tapper over firing of Navy captain and safety of sailors

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Defense Secretary Mark Esper was put on the hot seat on Sunday morning by CNN Jake Tapper over the firing of Captain Capt. Brett E. Crozier, who was relieved of duty helming the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt for writing a letter for expressing concern for his crew as the coronavirus began to spread.

Esper went out of his way to say that he backed acting Navy Secretary Thomas Modly decision to relieve Crozier who was attempting to protect the 5,000 sailors under his command, saying, "First and foremost, we needed to take care of the sailors on the ship. Ensure their well-being and get that ship out to sea as soon as possible. I'm pleased to report, over half of the ship has been tested. 155 came up positive, those are mild to moderate, no hospitalization whatsoever. The crew is being taken care of. With regard to the relief of the captain, I think the acting secretary made a tough decision, a decision that I support. It was based on his view that he lost faith and confidence in the captain based on his actions. It's just another example of how we hold leaders accountable for actions."

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