False
Sanders
"I am very proud that I am the only candidate in the Democratic primary to have voted against all of Trump's defense budgets."

Bernie Sanders on Tuesday, December 17th, 2019 in a video posted on his presidential campaign’s social media accounts.

Bernie Sanders is wrong — twice — in claim about defense budget voting record

Sen. Bernie Sanders speaks at the Littleton Opera House in Littleton, N.H., on Tuesday, Aug. 13, 2019. Photo by Kit Norton/VTDigger

Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders isn’t a big fan of President Donald Trump’s latest defense spending bill.

Tuesday morning, the U.S. Senate voted 86-8 in favor of the $738 billion National Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2020, sending it to the president for his signature. 

The day before senators passed the legislation, Sanders published an op-ed in the Washington Post panning the proposal, writing he opposes the bill as he as "all previous Trump military budgets."

Hours after the Tuesday vote, the Vermont senator and Democratic candidate for president doubled down, posting a video to his campaign’s social media accounts, in which Sanders explained how cutting defense spending could pay for his proposed social programs.

Sanders begins his video with a claim about his voting record on Trump’s defense spending proposals.

"I am very proud that I am the only candidate in the Democratic primary to have voted against all of Trump's defense budgets," Sanders says in the campaign video.

But Sanders, like many other candidates who also serve in the Senate, missed this week’s vote. So how can he claim to have voted against it? And is he actually the only anti-Trump presidential candidate in the Democratic field who has voted against all of the president’s defense budgets?

Starting with the voting record

Sanders’ presidential campaign declined to comment on the statement, referring questions to Sanders’ Senate office. Keane Bhatt, Sanders’ Senate spokesperson, pointed to the Vermont independent’s votes against the defense budget bill for fiscal years 2019, 2018, and 2017. 

Bhatt deferred back to the campaign on the first part of Sanders’ claim that he is the only candidate in the Democratic primary to vote against all of Trump’s military spending bills. The campaign did not respond with evidence to support this part of the statement.   

Sanders has voted against the last three national defense authorization bills but he was not present in the Senate for Tuesday’s vote on the bill he has publicly opposed.

Sanders’ Senate office also said his vote against the defense spending bill fiscal year 2017 was evidence he has voted against all of Trump’s military budget bills. However, the Defense Authorization Act for fiscal year 2017 was signed by former President Barack Obama on Dec. 23, 2016, and not by Trump.

A survey of Sanders’ record on Trump’s defense spending bills has him voting against the first two but missing the vote earlier this week. The Vermont independent also missed the chance to vote on this year’s military spending bill in June when the Senate moved it to the House of Representatives.

Democratic candidates against military budgets

Sanders also claims he is the only candidate in the Democratic primary who has voted against all of the president’s defense budgets.

Sens. Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass., Cory Booker, D-N.J., and Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., all missed this week’s vote on the military spending bill. Warren voted against last year’s defense budget, but supported Trump’s first national defense authorization proposal. Booker and Klobuchar have supported both of Trump’s previous military budget bills.

However, there is one other candidate in the crowded Democratic field who has cast votes in opposition of all three of the president’s defense authorization bills.

Rep. Tulsi Gabbard, D-Hawaii — who is polling between 1% and 3% nationally and has remained in the race as others have started dropping out — was one of 48 House members to vote against the current $738 billion spending proposal. Gabbard has also cast no votes on the legislation in 2018 and 2017 — Trump’s two other military budgets. 

The House member from Hawaii also voted against President Obama’s last defense spending budget in 2016.

Our Ruling

In a campaign video that has been viewed almost 320,000 times on Twitter alone, Sanders made the statement that he has voted against all of Trump’s defense budgets and that he is the only candidate in the Democratic primary to do so.

It is true the Vermont senator has publicly opposed all of the president’s military spending packages, but he has not voted against all of them. Sanders is also wrong to say he is the only candidate in the Democratic primary who has voted against the proposals. In fact, Gabbard is the only candidate who can make that claim. 

We rate this statement as False.