During deliberations on the Department of Defense's budget for Fiscal Year 2013, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment offered by Congressman Jack Kingston (R-GA) and Congresswoman Betty McCollum (D-MN) to prohibit military sponsorships of professional sports.
According to records obtained by Kingston's office, the Department of Defense spent $96.1 million on such ads in FY 2011 and intends to spend as much as $80.3 million in the current fiscal year which ends on September 30.
"We may disagree on some things but on this we should be able to come together," said Kingston. "The government borrows forty cents for every dollar it spends and this is where we're spending it? In the face of deep cuts and troop force reductions, the military should not be spending nearly $100 million sponsoring professional sports."
The U.S. Army alone plans to reduce its force size by 72,000 over the next five years but spent $18.7 million in FY 2011 and will spend an additional $16.1 million in the current fiscal year. The National Guard is the largest sponsor among the services, having spent $121 million in 2011 and 2012.
McCollum first offered an amendment seeking to prohibit such expenditures last year. While that effort fell short, it sparked a larger discussion among members of the Committee.
"After Congresswoman McCollum brought this issue up last year, the Pentagon had a year to justify this spending but they have not," he said. "They have had the chance to prove me wrong but I just don't see how seeing a logo on their favorite racecar or on a fisherman's visor is going to encourage someone to join the military."
"If the private sector wants to demonstrate their patriotism by sponsoring military racing teams, I say fantastic! But for taxpayers to pay for racing and bass fishing teams is a ridiculous waste of money," McCollum added.
The amendment, which passed by voice vote, is now part of the $608 billion defense funding bill which will move to the House floor for consideration.