San Diego, United States, 19th December, 2016. Littoral Combat Ship USS Montgomery maneuvers through San Diego Bay. (John D Sirlin /

Is Congress Captured by the Arms Industry?

March 15, 2023
4:00 pm - 5:00 pm
Zoom Webinar

Congress added $45 billion to the Pentagon’s budget for Fiscal Year 2023, much of it for weapons systems the department didn’t even request. This add-on pushed total spending on national defense to $858 billion, one of the highest levels since World War II.

Earlier this year the New York Times did a thorough case study of the successful effort by key members of Congress to prevent the Navy from retiring a number of copies of the Littoral Combat Ship (LCS), a vessel that was so flawed that it couldn’t carry out its basic missions.  The effort was spearheaded by corporations that stood to make billions repairing and maintaining the ships, joined by members of Congress with LCS-related work in their areas.  It was a case study of a broken budgetary process that puts special interests above the national interest.


Rep. Jackie Speier
Congresswoman Jackie Speier represented California’s 14th Congressional District, stretching from the southern part of San Francisco through San Mateo County to East Palo Alto 2008 to 2022. While in Congress, she served on the House Armed Services Committee, where she was chair of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, and the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence, where she served as Chair of the Subcommittee on Strategic Technologies and Advanced Research (STAR) and as a member of the Subcommittee on Counterterrorism, Counterintelligence and Counterproliferation.
Dan Grazier
Dan Grazier is a former Marine Corps captain. He served tours in Iraq and Afghanistan. His assignments included tours with the 2nd Tank Battalion in Camp Lejeune, NC and the 1st tank battalion in Twentynine Palms, CA. He has written extensively and lectured on matters of military reform and Manœuvre Warfare. He is a 2000 graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, a 2012 graduate of the Marine Corps Expeditionary Warfare School, and a 2019 graduate of Norwich University with a Master of Arts in military history.
William Hartung
William D. Hartung is a senior research fellow at the Quincy Institute for Responsible Statecraft. His work focuses on the arms industry and the U.S. military budget. He was previously the director of the Arms and Security Program at the Center for International Policy and co-director of the Center’s Sustainable Defense Task Force. He is the author of Prophets of War: Lockheed Martin and the Making of the Military-Industrial Complex and co-editor, with Miriam Pemberton of Lessons from Iraq: Avoiding the Next War. His previous books include And Weapons for All, a critique of U.S. arms sales policies from the Nixon through Clinton administrations.
Kelley Beaucar Vlahos (Moderator)
Kelley Beaucar Vlahos is a senior advisor at the Quincy Institute and editorial director of its online magazine, Responsible Statecraft. Previously she served as executive editor managing editor, and longtime foreign policy/national security writer at the American Conservative magazine. She also spent 15 years as an online political reporter for Fox News.