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Robot Bartenders Targeted by Senate Republican (2)

Aug. 21, 2018, 6:15 PMUpdated: Aug. 21, 2018, 8:31 PM

Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) Aug. 21 floated an amendment to a spending package (H.R. 6157) that could stop robot bartenders from serving up cold ones.

The proposed amendment would prohibit the Defense Department from using funds to develop “beerbots” or other automated bartenders. It comes as automated brewing machines have replaced human bartenders in some bars and restaurants.

“There’s just a lot of willy-nilly spending these days,” Flake told Bloomberg Law. And “why in the world would you spend Department of Defense funding for beerbots?” He added, “There are beerbots in the private sector already, so why would we devote resources for this?”

Bloomberg Law’s phone calls to the Defense Department seeking comment weren’t immediately returned.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) is backing Flake’s amendment.

Flake, who’s retiring at the end of the year, is among a number of lawmakers who’ve submitted amendments to the minibus bill being considered on the Senate floor this week.

Robotic bartenders are becoming more common in some metropolitan areas. Royal Caribbean International has also brought the technology to some of its cruise ships. The machines feature a robotic arm controlled by customers and a tablet to order drinks.

The appropriations measure would fund agencies such as the Defense Department, the Labor Department, and the National Labor Relations Board.

(Updated with details on robotic bartender technology.)

To contact the reporter on this story: Tyrone Richardson in Washington at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Chris Opfer at