Let America Work
Says Russ Feingold was the "only senator to vote against Homeland Security."

Let America Work on Thursday, September 1st, 2016 in a TV ad

PAC wrongly claims Russ Feingold was only vote against Homeland Security Department

A PAC supporting Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson claims his opponent, former Democratic U.S. Sen. Russ Feingold, was the only 'No' vote on creation of the Department of Homeland Security. (Getty images)

A TV ad from Let America Work, a single-candidate super PAC that supports Wisconsin Republican Ron Johnson for re-election, paints Democratic challenger Russ Feingold as someone who weakened the military during his 18 years in the Senate.

Feingold, the narrator states, "voted against authorizing our military 11 separate times" -- a claim Johnson made that we rated Half True.

Feingold did vote 11 times against an annual bill that authorizes defense spending levels and covers policy issues. But those were not votes to defund the military, given that it takes appropriations bills to provide funding. And lawmakers sometimes oppose the annual measure because of policy provisions included in it.

The ad, released Sept. 1, 2016, continues with words on the screen that say Feingold was the "only senator to vote against military intelligence" and the "only senator to vote against Homeland Security."

The two claims are essentially fleshed out by the narrator saying: "Feingold voted against the Patriot Act and against creating the Department of Homeland Security."

Feingold is well known for casting the lone vote against the USA Patriot Act, the 2001 anti-terrorism law introduced by U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Wis., in the wake of the 9/11 attacks.

Indeed, in his rematch with Johnson, Feingold has done a fundraising appeal explaining his vote.

But did Feingold cast the only vote against creating the Department of Homeland Security?


As reported by the New York Times at the time, the Senate voted in 2002 to "reorganize broad elements of a scattered federal government around a focused response to terrorism," with the creation of the Department of Homeland Security being "Washington's biggest transformation in 50 years."

"Not since Congress and the Truman administration upended the nation’s military apparatus to fight the cold war in 1947 has the government been reshaped so dramatically around a single purpose," the Times said. The department "will slowly begin to absorb 22 of Washington's signature functions, including immigration, border protection, emergency management, intelligence analysis and the protection of the president himself."

The roll call vote on the Homeland Security Act shows the measure passed 90-9.

Feingold was one of the nine, along with fellow Democrats Daniel Akaka of Alaska, Robert Byrd of West Virginia, Ernest Hollings of South Carolina, Daniel Inouye of Hawaii, Edward Kennedy of Massachusetts, Carl Levin of Michigan and Paul Sarbanes of Maryland.

(James Jeffords, a Vermont independent, also voted no, while Frank Murkowski of Alaska was not present. Wisconsin Democrat Herb Kohl voted yes.)

Feingold’s campaign responded to the ad the same day, issuing a statement saying Feingold voted no because the bill contained "unrelated riders." The statement included this excerpt from his book, "While America Sleeps":

Using the same tactics as the drafters of the Patriot Act, the backers knew they could grab a victory on some unrelated agenda because the overall bill was what was known in Washington as a must-pass. Such bills, which Congress has almost no choice but to pass, often attract riders like the one that restricted employees’ rights. The Bush administration and the Republicans in the Senate, hungry to regain the majority, pounced with some gusto on the political opportunities this new climate of fear provided.

Let America Work didn’t respond to our requests for information.

Our rating

Let America Work says Feingold was the "only senator to vote against Homeland Security."

Feingold was one of nine senators who voted against the 2002 law that created the Department of Homeland Security.

We rate the statement False.