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Public Statements

Department of Defense Appropriations Act, 2013

Floor Speech

Location: Washington, DC


Ms. McCOLLUM. Well, we just heard from the last speaker that part of what all this money is being spent on is branding and goodwill and that the Congress, and we today, should not be making any changes and micromanaging what the National Guard is doing.

I would call to our colleagues' attention legislation, Public Law 106-398, in the 106th Congress. The Legislative Information System, which is available to all of us, directs us as to what really took place in the 106th Congress.

We directed the Secretary of the Army, during a period beginning on October 1, 2000, and ending December 1, 2005, to carry out a pilot program to test various recruiting approaches. One of them was to be an outreach that the Army was going to do with motor sports. It doesn't work, and that's why the Army has dropped it.

The National Guard, through what Mr. Kingston had, didn't come to us directly. We were provided some sponsorship information through NASCAR of all the contacts and all the hits. Everybody who walked through the gate was counted as being part of branding. Folks, this was not supposed to be about branding; it was supposed to be about recruiting. That's why the Army spokesman on CNN said, when they announced that they were ending their 10-year, multidollar, taxpayer-funded relationship with NASCAR, ``It was not a great investment.

The Navy pulled out. The Marine Corps pulled out of NASCAR years ago. But yet the Pentagon has paid one racing team--Mr. Earnhardt's team--$136 million in taxpayer funds for the National Guard logo on his car in the name of recruitment. This year, they're paying Mr. Earnhardt again $26.5 million, to which the National Guard has reported--this is what the Guard told me--20 qualified candidates expressing interest, zero actual recruits.

For the past 2 years, the National Guard has spent more than $20 million in taxpayer funds on professional bass fishing tournaments. Folks, we're in a fiscal crisis here. Bass fishing is not a national security priority. This Congress is cutting services to communities and needy families because we're in a fiscal crisis, yet the Pentagon is spending in excess of $80 million on NASCAR racing sponsorships, professional bass fishing, ultimate cage fighting, and other sports sponsorships. The program is a waste of taxpayer money; it doesn't work.

Over the past few days, the professional sports lobby has come out in full force to protect their taxpayer-funded subsidy. For the purposes of the 2013 Defense appropriation bill, those pro teams are military contractors who have failed to deliver on their contract in the past for the taxpayers for recruits.

I want to thank Representative Kingston for his leadership on this and joining me to cut a Pentagon program that's just not effective.

This committee, in which we're having this bill discussed right now, has been bipartisan in the way the bill has been put together and bipartisan in the way this amendment has been offered. If the private sector wants to pool their money to sponsor military race car teams to demonstrate their patriotism, I say fantastic and go for it. But it is my job to be a steward of taxpayer funds.

I want to be clear about something else this amendment does not do. This amendment in no way, shape, or form prohibits or limits military recruiters from recruiting at NASCAR races or any other sports event. I just want the military recruiters to attend those races and community events where there are potential recruits.

We need, as Mr. Kingston pointed out, more recruiters doing their job in the right way. They have ideas, folks, on how they can do this better. We need to listen to the recruiters.

So, I think it will be just irresponsible and outrageous that Congress would go ahead and continue to borrow money from China to pay one race car driver's team $26 million for delivering zero recruits. Our Nation is facing a fiscal crisis. Communities and families and seniors and vulnerable children are bearing the brunt of deep and painful budget cuts. Congress needs to get its priorities in order and stop protecting military spending that doesn't work.

I urge my colleagues to support Mr. Kingston's amendment. It's an honor to be a partner to it. We need to cut the wasteful spending in programs and reduce this deficit.

Madam Chair, I yield back the balance of my time.


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