Michigan Democratic senator Gary Peters told supporters he "never voted against a pay raise for service members." But he's voted against such pay raises on at least six occasions.
"I've never voted against a pay raise for service members," Peters said at a June 16 virtual fundraiser. "Taking care of veterans is important to me and to make sure we have a strong military is important."
Peters, however, voted against pay raises for service members six times from 2015 to 2016. He voted three times in 2015 and another three times in 2016 to block Defense Department funding bills that would have raised service members' pay by 2.3 percent and 2.1 percent, respectively. The 2016 bill Peters voted against passed the Senate Appropriations Committee unanimously and was praised as "bipartisan" by Wisconsin Democratic senator Tammy Baldwin.
"I especially appreciate that this bill conforms to the bipartisan budget agreement and refrains from gimmicks that not only shortchange non-defense priorities, but also our military," Baldwin said at the time. "This bill responsibly addresses the readiness and well-being of our troops and our national defense requirements."
Peters's 2016 vote was part of a Democratic filibuster that Senate Republicans said undermined U.S. national security.
"It's also hard to explain why—despite the array of terror attacks we've seen across the world—Senate Democrats decided to block a bill that could help keep the American people safer from threats like ISIL," Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R., Ky.) said.
Peters, who did not respond to a request for comment, is backed by VoteVets, a liberal dark money group that pledged to spend millions to elect Democrats in key 2020 Senate races. VoteVets has faced numerous allegations of campaign finance violations, and Peters was accused of illegally coordinating with the group in December. VoteVets has spent nearly $1.5 million on ads supporting Peters.
VoteVets did not respond to a request for comment.
Peters's claim at the virtual fundraiser came in response to an ad released by the National Republican Senatorial Committee on June 10. The ad contrasts Peters's repeated votes against military pay raises with the nearly $200,000 the Democrat has taken from pharmaceutical companies.
Peters is facing a challenge from Republican John James, who has outraised the first-term senator for three consecutive quarters. The pair will face off in November.