WASHINGTON – An effort to end multi-million dollar sponsorships of sports teams by the U.S. military that was spearheaded by Democratic Congresswoman Betty McCollum failed narrowly in the U.S. House on Wednesday evening.
The measure put forward by McCollum and Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA), would have reduced the military budget by $72.3 million, the amount the armed services currently spend to sponsor NASCAR, pro bass fishing and Ultimate Fighting Championship teams and events. The military has long argued that such sponsorships aid with recruiting, although McCollum’s office says the military’s own recruiting data suggests there’s little evidence to back up that point.
The final vote for McCollum’s amendment was 202-216 along bipartisan lines with DFL Rep. Keith Ellison being the only other member of Minnesota’s delegation to join McCollum in opposing continued military sponsorship of sporting events. Republican Rep. Michele Bachmann did not vote.
In a statement, McCollum called the vote an “important test” of whether Congress had the stomach to cut back military spending at a time of record deficits and major cuts to domestic programs.
“Unfortunately, a majority decided taxpayer-funded race cars and bass fishing were more important than deficit reduction,” said McCollum. “The good news is a broad bipartisan group of 202 conservatives, moderates, and progressives came together for the good of our children’s fiscal future.”
Another McCollum amendment to the Pentagon spending bill would have cut the budget for military bands from $388 million annually to $200 million. That measure also failed 166-250 with the votes again falling along bipartisan lines.