On June 4, 1992, the House of Representatives spent their day trying to figure out how much of the nation's budget should go to the Department of Defense, with the Persian Gulf War over.
Bernie Sanders, who was then an Independent congressman from Vermont, let it rip. Sanders spoke on the ballooning amount the country was spending on the military while a host of other issues affecting Americans went unaddressed.
Sounds pretty familiar, but it's still entertaining as always. Let's roll the tape.
Rep. Sanders starts out by commending Rep. Maxine Waters and Rep. Ronald Dellums for their amendment, which was added to the defense bill that would:
(1) repeal the Missile Defense Act of 1991; (2) terminate the Strategic Defense Initiative Organization within the Defense Department and reassign its functions to other military departments and functions; and (3) limit Strategic Defense Initiative (SDI) activities to basic research and fund basic research at $1.2 billion in fiscal year 1993.
Then Sanders goes all in about why this amendment is necessary.
"Sometimes I think that the people in this institution and the White House are really losing contact in not knowing what’s going on with the American people," he says.
He refers to poll numbers and continues, telling his fellow Representatives that "the American people hold the President of the United States in contempt, they hold this institution in contempt, they hold the Republican Party in contempt, they hold the Democratic Party in contempt."
"They think that maybe given all the crises facing this country, it’s about time there was some bold leadership here and that this institution make some hard choices."
Rhetoric like this is probably why Bernie did not have many friends when he entered the House!
Sanders then points to this chart and continues:
"We are spending $270 billion a year on the military, but we don't have a major enemy."
Then he gets really fiery:
I know it hurts your feelings, I know you’re upset about it, I know you’re hoping and praying that maybe we’ll have another war, maybe somebody will rise up. But it ain't happening!
Sanders continues, citing the dissolution of the Soviet Union and Warsaw Pact as reason enough to scale back. Further, there are no legitimate threats from other counties, like Iraq and Panama.
"Who are you worried about," he asks.
Sanders then shifts and makes a plea to help out real Americans through a number of social welfare programs and education reform that will raise the standard of living for the lower and middle classes.
"That’s what they want to see. No more B-2 bombers, no more Star Wars," he says.
While declaring that Congress should be reinvesting in American industry, Sanders is interrupted (it's unintelligible what is said), but he refuses to yield.
He closes with a flourish:
Let’s have the guts to give leadership to this country. The Cold War’s over. Let’s reinvest in America, let’s support this amendment.
It's clear that Sanders receives a smattering of applause when his time is up.
The next speaker up, Rep. Duncan Hunter, a Republican from California, prattled on for a while about how we couldn't slash military spending because the U.S. didn't win the Korean War. The House passed the military spending budget the next day and the Waters-Dellums amdenment failed. So it goes.
David Matthews operates the Wayback Machine on Fusion.net—hop on. Got a tip? Email him: firstname.lastname@example.org