The Senate passed its version of the annual National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) on Thursday night with widespread bipartisan support.
Just 11 senators — including six Democrats, one independent and four Republicans — voted against the must-pass defense spending bill, which next heads into the reconciliation process as the Democratic-led Senate and Republican-led House attempt to find a compromise.
The Senate version largely avoided the culture wars provisions in the House version, which passed almost entirely with GOP support, but it still authorizes a topline figure of $886 billion — a figure that was too high for some senators on both sides of the aisle. The topline figure last year was $816.7, up from $777.7 billion in fiscal 2022.
Here are the 11 senators who voted against the upper chamber’s version of the bill:
Sen. Cory Booker (D-N.J.)
Sen. Mike Braun (R-Ind.)
Braun said Wednesday that he planned introduced several amendments to the defense spending bill, which he argued was driving government glut.
“It’s the most important thing we do here in the federal government, but we don’t do any budgets over there, we don’t do any audits,” he said in a video posted to X, the platform formerly known as Twitter. “It’s all part of the problem of why we spend too much money and then borrow it from future generations.”
Sen. Mike Lee (R-Utah)
Sen. Ed Markey (D-Mass.)
Markey called the $886 billion defense spending package “ridiculous” and claimed that the “bloated budget does not advance our national security.”
“The American people have repeatedly heard from Republicans that we need to cut government spending—for education, for health care, for food assistance—and now they are enthusiastically throwing funding to their defense contractor friends,” Markey said in a series of posts on X.
“While I am grateful that the NDAA passed tonight includes my language to compel the [Department of Defense] to take the overdose crisis among service members and their families seriously, I can’t support a package that inflates military spending at the expense of working and middle-class families,” he added.
Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.)
Merkley similarly described the defense budget approved under the Senate’s version of the NDAA as “bloated.”
“I voted against the excessive military spending in the NDAA,” he tweeted Thursday night. “The already bloated defense budget does not need to be injected with additional billions of dollars.”
Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.)
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.)
Sanders explained his opposition to this year’s NDAA on the Senate floor Wednesday, pointing to several crises that lawmakers are seemingly overlooking while approving the large defense spending bill.
“We have a planetary crisis in terms of climate change. Our health care system is broken and dysfunctional. Our educational system is teetering. Our housing stock is totally inadequate. And these are just some of the crises facing our country,” he said.
“And what is very clear, I think, to the American people and to many people here in the Senate and those in the House, we’re not addressing those crises,” Sanders continued.
He argued that Congress votes to increase the military budget every year with “seemingly little regard for the strategic picture facing our country.”
“It just happens,” he said. “We don’t worry about people sleeping out on the street, we don’t worry about people who don’t have any health care, we don’t worry about people who can’t afford prescription drugs.”
Sen. JD Vance (R-Ohio)
Vance said his vote against the defense spending bill was due to its commitments to provide Ukraine with “years of additional military aid.”
“I’ve worked in good faith throughout this process to secure as many wins for Ohio as possible, and I’m proud that many of those priorities have been included in the final version of the NDAA,” Vance said in a statement Friday.
“However, I cannot in good conscience support the broader package, which commits the United States to years of additional military aid for the war in Ukraine,” he added. “It’s disappointing to me that these significant priorities that would benefit Ohioans have been bogged down with such deeply problematic foreign policy proposals.”
Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.)
Sen. Peter Welch (D-Vt.)
Sen. Ron Wyden (D-Ore.)