Today, the House Appropriations Committee approved an amendment offered by Rep. Jack Kingston (R-GA) and Rep. Betty McCollum (D-MN) to the Fiscal Year 2013 Defense Appropriations bill prohibiting taxpayer funds from being " used to sponsor professional or semi-professional motorsports, fishing, mixed martial arts, wrestling, or other sporting events or competitors." The amendment passed the committee on a voice vote and will be included as the nearly $608 billion defense funding bill moves to the floor of the U.S. House for consideration.
The Department of Defense is spending more than $80 million this year to sponsor NASCAR racing teams, Indy racing, professional bass fishing, pro-wrestling, and ultimate fighting. In 2011 and 2012, the National Guard alone has spent $121 million on professional sponsorships, including $20 million for professional fishing and $90 million for NASCAR, Indy car, and motorcycle racing. Over the past five years the National Guard's sponsorship of NASCAR's Dale Earnhardt, Jr. and his #88 team has cost taxpayers over $136 million. This taxpayer spending will all come to an end if the "Kingston-McCollum" amendment becomes law.
"At a time when Congress is increasing defense spending by cutting "Meals on Wheels' for vulnerable seniors and nutrition programs for hungry children, it's time to eliminate wasteful Pentagon spending on NASCAR, fishing and ultimate fighting sponsorships that have nothing to do with our national security," McCollum said.
"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 concluded.
Republican Congressman Jack Kingston, representing Georgia's 1st Congressional District said, "We may disagree on some things but on this we should be able to come together. 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. After Congresswoman McCollum brought this issue up last year, the Pentagon had a year to justify this spending but they have not. 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."