This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Barbara Lee (D-CA) that would have eliminated a “$5 billion transfer fund” that allowed the Defense Department to transfer up to $5 billion into its war funding account. (Those funds would not constitute new spending, but rather would have been taken from another Defense Department account.) This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Lee urged support for her amendment: “This amendment does nothing to undermine the efforts that our servicemen and -women have performed with incredible courage and with extreme commitment in Afghanistan, Iraq and around the world. They have done everything asked of them. And as the daughter of a military veteran, I take any matters that affect our troops very, very seriously. But supporting our troops does not mean giving a blank check to the Pentagon. I have consistently said that we cannot afford to give any more blank checks to the Defense Department. This amendment is about eliminating a giant $5 billion check with a blank memo to fight the global war on terror anywhere, at any time, without any accountability. The Department of Defense just has to notify Congress that these funds are being transferred. This $5 billion giveaway, which is what it is, it's like a slush fund, it's like a war slush fund, another giveaway to the Pentagon. It's a $5 billion check to use as it pleases with little or no congressional oversight. There's no accountability in how these funds are spent.”
Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) opposed Lee’s amendment: “This [$5 billion transfer fund] was done to try to make sure that…the Defense Department had what they needed for the overseas contingency operations [war funding], but that they had to justify exactly how they were going to use the money. And to the contrary, rather than being the potential slush fund, this is definitely not a slush fund, and so I oppose the amendment.”
The House rejected Lee’s amendment by a vote of 114-314. Voting “yea” were 105 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 9 Republicans. 229 Republicans and 85 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House voted to maintain a “$5 billion transfer fund” that allowed the Defense Department to transfer up to $5 billion into its war funding account.