Rick Perry Attacks Defense Bill for Troops Overseas

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Rick Perry owes American men and women an apology for treating them as collateral to his gutless political campaign. Perry's statement in support of blocking the defense spending bill is Republican primary rhetoric at its worst. I demand that Rick Perry apologize to the brave men and women who are defending us overseas so he can have the freedom to speak his cowardly mind.

–Texas Democratic Party Chairman, Boyd Richie (Source)

Every crazy move Rick Perry makes to the right only makes it that much harder for him to swing back to the center in the general election. His latest anti-Washington zeal shows that he has no limits to what he will do — no matter how big of an overreach it may be — including advocating against supporting our troops. Moreover, he will continue to get away with such statements and positionings so long as everyone focuses solely on the political process of his actions, and ignores the policy implications of his valueless statements.

Last week, Republican Senators in Congress were stalling the health care legislation by attempting to filibuster a defense spending bill, which needed to be voted on before they could move on to the health care legislation. The bill, which received huge bipartisan support in the House, contained the following:

  • More than $100 billion operations and maintenance, and military personnel requirements for ongoing military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, and to support preparations to continue withdrawal from Iraq.
  • More than $23 billion for equipment used by our service members in Iraq and Afghanistan – including critical funds to accelerate the deployment of new mine-resistant vehicles
  • More than $150 billion to increase readiness and training of our troops.
  • Nearly $30 billion for health care for service members and their families.
  • A 3.4% pay increase for our brave service men and women.

A defense spending bill that gives a pay raise to our troops? Should be a no-brainer, right? Wrong. Republicans in the Senate were refusing to vote on the bill, valuing their partisan opposition to health care over the safety of the American men and women who serve in the military. Finally, late Thursday night / Friday morning, Kay Bailey Hutchison joined her fellow Republican Senators to end the filibuster in the Senate. Rick Perry — forever the political opportunist — saw an opening, and without hesitation or concern for the policy reasons for his actions, began a massive attack on Senator Hutchison.

I'm not one to defend Senator Hutchison — there are very real reasons why she is a Republican opportunist, which the TDP has detailed here —  but, I mean, come on. It's a defense spending bill. Republicans want to oppose a defense spending bill? Rick Perry wants to attack Senator Hutchison for supporting a defense spending bill?

From a policy perspective, it is sheer lunacy. We can't support sending our troops overseas and not support giving them the equipment and resources they need to succeed. From a political perspective, it is extremely arrogant. Rick Perry is banking on the idea that he can go to the far, far, far, far, far right in the primary, and not suffer any consequences in his run against Bill White.

Perry is miscalculating on this one. He has Hutchison beat. There's no need for him to go overboard — there's no risk of Hutchison actually improving her chances in a campaign. I mean, if Rick Perry can coordinate Tea Party activists to march on Hutchison's offices (Source), then why does he need to attack the troops?

The pro-KBH blogs are attacking Rick for this, while the pro-Perry ones support his move. Read each perspective below for their spin:

Here's the Perry video attacking Hutchison:



About Author

Phillip Martin

Currently the Research and Policy Director for Progress Texas and the Texas Research Institute, Phillip Martin writes occasional long-form pieces for BOR that promote focused analysis and insight into Texas politics. Born and raised in Austin, Phillip started working in politics in 2003 and started writing on BOR in the summer of 2005. Phillip has worked for the Texas Democratic Trust, the Texas Legislative Study Group, and now the Progress Texas family. He is a lifelong Houston Astros fan, a loyal Longhorn, and loves swimming at Barton Springs Pool.


  1. Triangulation of Death on

    I read about this . . .
    This morning. What a 'tard. Or turd.

    Too bad Perry doesn't support the troops. Maybe he only supports the Texas State Guard (his militia) for the coming secession.

  2. TexianPolitico on

    This is absurd to say that Perry doesn't support the troops. In fact, its like when Republicans call Democrats unpatriotic. This makes us look small and we'll lose because of thinking like this. In fact, I know a lot of troops that served in Iraq and they've told me Perry was always supportive of them. There are better lines of attack that this. This is weak.  

    • There have been better attacks
      And I've made many of them over the years, and will continue to do so throughout 2010.

      But in the mean time, I'm not going to sit back in silence while Perry goes around the state telling people that blocking health care reform is worth delaying support for our troops. That is an absurd and disgusting policy position, and I'm not going to ignore it. Let everyone else talk about the politics of his vote. Let the pundits argue over whether he's doing this as a smart or foolish political strategy.

      I don't care if this is the Christmas holidays, or if it's smart politically, or what. You don't play politics with the military, which is what the Republicans in the Senate (and Rick Perry, apparently) believe is an appropriate approach to governing. You just don't.

      • No one is playing politics with the troops
        And until you've been there you don't really know what you are talking about.

        • wtf does that mean
          “until you've been there you don't really know what you are talking about”

          Until I've been to Iraq or Afghanistan I don't really know why it's ok to threaten pay raises to the very troops that are serving over there in a purely political attempt to delay a vote on another bill?

          Until I've been to DC I don't really know why it's ok to threaten funding for troops in a purely political attempt to delay a vote on another bill?


  3. Republicans Do Not EVER Support the Troops
    Whether it is sending troops into an illegal war or voting against health care for veterans, Republicans have a long record of saying one thing and doing another.

  4. Democrats on voter ID?
    I remember our side using a similar tactic, delaying uncontroversial legislation proceeding voter ID that was unrelated to voter ID, just to kill voter ID.  If some Democrats had voted in a manner to kill that tactic by speeding up the passage of those other bills, how would BOR and others campaigning against voter ID have reacted?  Just some food for thought.

    For the record I oppose voter ID laws, unless it's connected to some sort of universal and mandatory federal ID.  I also think Perry's attack on Hutchison here is unwarranted.

    • Voter ID had an endgame
      Make it three days and the bill is dead, with three weeks left to do other bills. And at any time they could have suspended the rules to take up any other bill if Republicans (Wayne Christian, Debbie Riddle) didn't object. Which they did.

      Dragging out a vote for troops only pushes us into 2010 without a way to pay for our troops in 2010.  There's no “make it to this day and healthcare is dead”.  There is just “make it take longer to play politics”.  Which is reprehensible.

      Rick Perry and Congressional Republicans have seriously lost touch with reality.  They are motivated by hatred.  And let's not kid ourselves – if KBH had voted like the rest of the Republicans, the press release the next day would have been “KBH hates our troops”.  Rick Perry and his campaign are in attack mode, and no amount of common sense can permeate that dense shell around them.

      • GOP end game
        Perhaps they think they can whip up public support against it to get one of the senators close to the fence to drop their support for the bill.

        I agree with you that this is pure political opportunism by Perry, and that it was a heads I win tails you lose proposition for Hutchison.  I have little sympathy for Perry getting attacked for “not supporting our troops”, given the crap Republicans give Democrats on that and his stupidity on this issue.  However I still think we should try to be consistent.  Unfortunately politics is often the art of using dishonest means to advance honestly held ends.  

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