Military Sponsorship Ban Defeated

National Guard

An amendment to prohibit the National Guard from spending money to sponsor NASCAR teams was defeated 289-134 on the House floor Friday. (Photo: Jeff Wackerlin)

An amendment that would prohibit the Army National Guard from sponsoring Dale Earnhardt Jr. or any other competitor in NASCAR was defeated Friday in the U.S. House of Representatives.

Rep. Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) has fought the past three years to limit military sponsorships of sporting events. She submitted Amendment 25 to the Defense bill on Thursday. The House voted 289-134 against the measure Friday.

The defeat was the worst McCollum has suffered with similar type of amendments.

The House voted 216-202 against comparable legislation last year. The House also defeated similar amendments two years ago, voting 260-167 against in July 2011 and 281-148 against in Feb. 2011.

The amendment McCollum offered Thursday would prohibit the Army National Guard from making “payments for professional wrestling entertainment sponsorships or motor sports sponsorships.’’

McCollum stated on the House floor that the Army National Guard was spending $53 million to sponsor World Wrestling Entertainment and motorsports.

“At a time of enormous federal budget deficits, endless borrowing from China, sequestration's harming military readiness, and deep cuts to services for vulnerable children, seniors and people with disabilities, the Army National Guard is spending over $53 million to have its logo highlighted at World Wrestling Entertainment events and to sponsor NASCAR racing and IndyCar racing,’’ McCollum said. “After years of congressional debate, the Army National Guard still cannot provide any data - zero statistics - to demonstrate anyone has signed a recruiting contract as a result of this program.’’

“This amendment can bring both liberals and Tea Party conservatives together. The fact that $53 million in taxpayer funds is going to sponsor some of the most violent and sexist entertainment on television and NASCAR racing teams that result in zero recruits is a waste of money, and it should be stopped.’’

McCollum noted on the House floor that the Army, Navy and Marine Corps have ended NASCAR sponsorships “because these sponsorships failed to meet their recruiting goals.’’

Rep. Richard Hudson (R-N.C.) rebutted McCollum by saying he opposed “this misguided amendment.''

“Mr. Chairman, facts are a stubborn thing,’’ said Hudson, whose district includes Charlotte Motor Speedway. “The National Guard has reiterated time and time again the immense value of their recruiting and retention programs in professional motor sports. The facts of this program show a successful return on investment for the taxpayers.’’

“In the June 4 letter to House Appropriations, the National Guard Association of the United States and their counterpart, the Enlisted Association of the National Guard, stated that a recent independent study found that 90 percent of the Army National Guard soldiers who enlisted or re-enlisted were exposed to the Guard from recruiting or retention materials featuring NASCAR drivers and their cars. That's a real return on your investment, a return on the invest of the American people;

“Of those who enlisted or re-enlisted during that time period, 85 percent agree that professional sports are beneficial to attracting and retaining good soldiers. That's, again, a good return on your investment; 

“And the last number is 400,000. Since embarking on a more robust use of professional sport sponsorships in fiscal year 2007, the Army National Guard has added more than 400,000 new soldiers. That, Mr. Chairman, is a return on your investment. Mr. Chairman, these facts come from sound research and independent study which the National Guard has shared with us.’’

“I submit these facts to my colleagues and encourage them to consider the tremendous return on investment we would be stealing from our Nation's military and hardworking taxpayers if this amendment were to pass. I urge my colleagues to vote no.’’

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