|McKeon: fighting amendment|
Representatives Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) and Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) have offered an amendment to the Defense Appropriations Bill that would end military involvement in NASCAR and other professional sports. However, House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) raised a point of order against the measure last week, and the House Rules Committee voting to vote on whether to strike the measure form the bill.
Both McCollum – who authored an identical amendment last year before being denied in a lopsided vote – and Kingston have portrayed themselves as taxpayer watchdogs. Both have said they hold no animosity against NASCAR, with Kingston saying recently, “I'm very pro-military, but at some point we've got to get in the habit of cutting programs that are less efficient and less effective. $20 million for one NASCAR race, have we lost our minds? And have we lost them permanently? I'd say this is a great place to send a signal.”
Interestingly, the McCollum/Kingston amendment currently includes no provisions for cutting the Defense budget, instead merely specifying where the money cannot be spent. Approximately $80 million in funding would be affected by the amendment; a small percentage of proposed $519 billion Pentagon budget. As a result of the objections raised by McKeon last week, McCollum said she will re-write the amendment enabling it to be presented again on the House floor. She said additional language may be added to cut the $80 million from the Defense Budget.
The amendment has drawn heavy criticism from the NASCAR community, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. suggesting that Kingston “do his homework” by attending a NASCAR race before making decisions about the effectiveness of the military’s motorsports-based programs. “He's a Republican from Georgia,” joked Earnhardt. “He ought to have been to a NASCAR race by now.”
Kingston scoffed at Earnhardt’s comments, telling reporter Jeremy Herb of The Hill, “If I was receiving millions of dollars from the federal government, I would defend the program vigorously as well.”
Last year, McCollum’s amendment failed by a 281-148 vote, but with the support of Kingston, a Tea Party Republican, observers say the amendment may now have a 50/50 chance of passage. A vote is expected after the July 4 Congressional recess.