• Did Freedom Win? No
  • Voted for Freedom 13
  • Voted Against Freedom 82
The $740.5 billion NDAA for FY 2021 fails to deliver any meaningful reforms and perpetuates the status quo in some areas. It also includes big government power grabs, places burdens on small businesses, and expands the federal bureaucracy.

The primary reasons FreedomWorks has decided to issue a key vote against the NDAA are because of the price tag, the limitations on proposed troop withdrawals in Germany and Afghanistan, the failure of Congress to reform the existing authorization for the use of military force (AUMF) in Iraq, as well as the failure of Congress to prohibit logistical support in unauthorized military activities in Yemen.

President Trump used his authority as commander-in-chief to order the withdrawal of 12,000 troops from Germany because, as he has said, the United States shouldn’t be responsible for other countries’ failures to make investments in defense. We agree.

He also decided to reduce the American military presence in Afghanistan by 1,500 troops. We have had troops in Afghanistan for 19 years. Critics of this decision — the bipartisan Forever War Caucus — can’t seem to tell us when we’ll finally leave Afghanistan. Only that we can’t do it now. After 19 years. As President Trump said directly to Congress in his 2019 State of the Union address, “Great nations do not fight endless wars.” The decision to reduce the troop level in Afghanistan was the right one. However, this NDAA explicitly seeks to go against this decision and prevent future decisions like it, by explicitly putting a “limitation on the use of funds to reduce deployment to Afghanistan,” depriving the executive of the funds necessary to physically relocate troops.

Furthermore, the conference report leaves out the repeal of the 2002 AUMF in Iraq that was included in the House-passed NDAA. Another provision from the House-passed NDAA that isn’t in the conference report is the prohibition of the use of funds to engage in military activities in Yemen. Our involvement in the ongoing conflict in Yemen has never been authorized by Congress, yet we’ve continued to be involved in that conflict based on a flimsy interpretation of the 2001 AUMF.

Adding to the fiscal irresponsibility of this NDAA is its continued abuse of Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) spending. OCO is intended to expedite direct funding for our combat operations overseas and is, therefore, both outside of the DoD’s base funding level and outside of the discretionary budgetary caps set by Congress. Increasingly, funding that is not remotely related to the direct provision of war-fighting support for our troops has crept into OCO, to the point that even with our presence in Afghanistan and other Middle East nations diminishing, OCO levels in the FY 2021 NDAA stand at $69 billion.

This NDAA prohibits the revival of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) commissions, in spite of their proving to be one of the few useful fiscal restraints on wasteful defense spending available to Congress — as noted by the Pentagon itself. The military owns or leases thousands of properties and buildings around the world, many of which are no longer particularly useful or functional, the sale of which could provide both immediate cash and long-term reductions of overhead costs.

Unfortunately, amidst widespread dysfunction in the legislative process in Congress, the NDAA’s reputation as one of the few “guaranteed-to-pass” bills each year has made it a prime target for adding on new spending and even brand new laws entirely unrelated to our military and national defense.

Perhaps the most egregious instance in this bill is the inclusion of the Corporate Transparency Act (CTA), a measure that will place a new federal reporting burden on U.S. small businesses and threaten the privacy rights of millions of Americans. By requiring a confusing new annual report from every small business on all people who qualify as “beneficial owners” — a term which is unclearly defined — the CTA would create yet another paperwork burden on small business, who stand to face criminal fines and penalties if they fail to comply even by mistake.

One of the main drivers of beneficial ownership legislation is the FACT Coalition, which is an organization comprised of many leftist groups, including the AFL-CIO, Citizens for Tax Justice, Fair Share, Friends of the Earth, and Public Citizen. In May 2019, a representative of the Financial Accountability and Corporate Transparency (FACT) Coalition told the Washington Post: “Every official member of our coalition agrees that this information should ultimately be made public.”

This is the first step in an end-run around Citizens United. Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse (D-R.I.) has pushed for Congress to require the disclosure of beneficial ownership information, making the connection to “dark money” and donor disclosure. Section 4111 of House Democrats’ so-called “For the People Act,” H.R. 1, included language similar to the beneficial ownership language in NDAA.

The FY 2021 NDAA also eliminates arguably the one single position inside of the Pentagon that demonstrably saves taxpayer dollars, the CMO. Congress created the position of chief management officer (CMO) inside the DoD in December 2016. The idea for this position was to have someone with significant private sector management and business experience be given the sole responsibility and authority to identify wasteful spending and inefficient bureaucracy. Essentially, by bringing an outsider with private-sector experience and no ties to the defense industry inside the bureaucracy to streamline processes and make the Pentagon more efficient, opportunities for real reform could be identified and implemented.

Stories of bureaucracy and wasteful spending inside the DoD are legendary. In December 2016, the Washington Post reported that the DOD spiked an internal report documenting $125 billion in waste. The fear, as the Post noted at the time, was that “Congress would use the findings as an excuse to slash the defense budget.” Our friends at OpenTheBooks have also noted the “use-it-or-lose-it” spending habits of all federal agencies, including DOD. Agencies will spend dollars as the fiscal year winds to a close to show that they need more money, not less.

As of July 2020, the CMO’s office had identified $21 billion in savings or inefficiencies. Clearly, defense contractors aren’t happy with the CMO’s work and worked with their rented friends in Congress to get rid of this much-needed position.

Legislator's Votes

Voted for Freedom

Cory Booker

Senator NJ

Cory Booker

  • Voted for Freedom? Yes
Mike Braun

Senator IN

Mike Braun

  • Voted for Freedom? Yes
Tom Cotton

Senator AR

Tom Cotton

  • Voted for Freedom? Yes
Ted Cruz

Senator TX

Ted Cruz

  • Voted for Freedom? Yes
Josh Hawley

Senator MO

Josh Hawley

  • Voted for Freedom? Yes
John Kennedy

Senator LA

John Kennedy

  • Voted for Freedom? Yes
Mike Lee

Senator UT

Mike Lee

  • Voted for Freedom? Yes
  • Session Score 100%
Ed Markey

Senator MA

Ed Markey

  • Voted for Freedom? Yes
Jeff Merkley

Senator OR

Jeff Merkley

  • Voted for Freedom? Yes
Rand Paul

Senator KY

Rand Paul

  • Voted for Freedom? Yes
Bernie Sanders

Senator VT

Bernie Sanders

  • Voted for Freedom? Yes
Ron Wyden

Senator OR

Ron Wyden

  • Voted for Freedom? Yes

Voted Against Freedom

Tammy Baldwin

Senator WI

Tammy Baldwin

  • Voted for Freedom? No
John Barrasso

Senator WY

John Barrasso

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Roy Blunt

Senator MO

Roy Blunt

  • Voted for Freedom? No
John Boozman

Senator AR

John Boozman

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Sherrod Brown

Senator OH

Sherrod Brown

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Richard Burr

Senator NC

Richard Burr

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Ben Cardin

Senator MD

Ben Cardin

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Tom Carper

Senator DE

Tom Carper

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Bob Casey

Senator PA

Bob Casey

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Bill Cassidy

Senator LA

Bill Cassidy

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Susan Collins

Senator ME

Susan Collins

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Chris Coons

Senator DE

Chris Coons

  • Voted for Freedom? No
John Cornyn

Senator TX

John Cornyn

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Kevin Cramer

Senator ND

Kevin Cramer

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Mike Crapo

Senator ID

Mike Crapo

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Steve Daines

Senator MT

Steve Daines

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Dick Durbin

Senator IL

Dick Durbin

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Mike Enzi

Senator WY

Mike Enzi

  • Voted for Freedom? No
  • Session Score 0%
Joni Ernst

Senator IA

Joni Ernst

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Deb Fischer

Senator NE

Deb Fischer

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Cory Gardner

Senator CO

Cory Gardner

  • Voted for Freedom? No
  • Session Score 0%
Maggie Hassan

Senator NH

Maggie Hassan

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Mazie Hirono

Senator HI

Mazie Hirono

  • Voted for Freedom? No
John Hoeven

Senator ND

John Hoeven

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Jim Inhofe

Senator OK

Jim Inhofe

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Ron Johnson

Senator WI

Ron Johnson

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Tim Kaine

Senator VA

Tim Kaine

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Mark Kelly

Senator AZ

Mark Kelly

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Angus King

Senator ME

Angus King

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Amy Klobuchar

Senator MN

Amy Klobuchar

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Patrick Leahy

Senator VT

Patrick Leahy

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Joe Manchin

Senator WV

Joe Manchin

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Bob Menendez

Senator NJ

Bob Menendez

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Jerry Moran

Senator KS

Jerry Moran

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Chris Murphy

Senator CT

Chris Murphy

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Patty Murray

Senator WA

Patty Murray

  • Voted for Freedom? No
David Perdue

Senator GA

David Perdue

  • Voted for Freedom? No
  • Session Score 0%
Gary Peters

Senator MI

Gary Peters

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Rob Portman

Senator OH

Rob Portman

  • Voted for Freedom? No
  • Session Score 63.6%
Jack Reed

Senator RI

Jack Reed

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Jim Risch

Senator ID

Jim Risch

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Pat Roberts

Senator KS

Pat Roberts

  • Voted for Freedom? No
  • Session Score 0%
Mitt Romney

Senator UT

Mitt Romney

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Jacky Rosen

Senator NV

Jacky Rosen

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Marco Rubio

Senator FL

Marco Rubio

  • Voted for Freedom? No
  • Session Score 100%
Ben Sasse

Senator NE

Ben Sasse

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Brian Schatz

Senator HI

Brian Schatz

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Chuck Schumer

Senator NY

Chuck Schumer

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Tim Scott

Senator SC

Tim Scott

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Rick Scott

Senator FL

Rick Scott

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Tina Smith

Senator MN

Tina Smith

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Dan Sullivan

Senator AK

Dan Sullivan

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Jon Tester

Senator MT

Jon Tester

  • Voted for Freedom? No
John Thune

Senator SD

John Thune

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Thom Tillis

Senator NC

Thom Tillis

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Pat Toomey

Senator PA

Pat Toomey

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Mark Warner

Senator VA

Mark Warner

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Roger Wicker

Senator MS

Roger Wicker

  • Voted for Freedom? No
Todd Young

Senator IN

Todd Young

  • Voted for Freedom? No

Abstained