U.S. House Rejects Bill To End Military's Sports Sponsorship By Vote Of 216-202
The U.S. House yesterday voted 216-202 "to continue allowing military sponsorships of NASCAR teams,” according to Bob Pockrass of SPORTING NEWS. Republicans voted against the amendment (in favor of sports sponsorships) "by a 156-81 margin Wednesday night, while Democrats voted for the amendment (and against sponsorships) by a 121-60 margin." This vote was “much closer than two taken last year, when the measure failed 281-148 and 260-167, respectively.” A 30-minute debate on the House floor prior to the vote pitted U.S. Reps Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.) "against seven House members who spoke against the amendment.” U.S. Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said of the sponsorships, “It delivers results. The fact is no matter the size of the military, you’re still going to need recruits.” But McCollum said that the National Guard program “did not produce recruits.” McCollum: “It would be just irresponsible and outrageous that Congress would go ahead and continue to borrow money from China to pay for one racecar driver’s team $26 million for delivering zero recruits.” Pockrass noted the amendment was “predicted to produce savings of $72.3 million in the $608 billion defense spending bill.” The U.S. Army and National Guard have “the two most prominent NASCAR sponsorships.” The Army “already has announced it would end" its $8.4M NASCAR sponsorship at the end of the '12 season. That deal included sponsorship of Stewart-Haas Racing’s Ryan Newman in the Sprint Cup Series, "as well as for at-track displays and other promotions." The National Guard has indicated that it “wants to continue its program.” NASCAR sent a letter, co-signed by the NBA, NFL, MLB and the IndyCar Series, to Congress in opposition to the amendment (SPORTINGNEWS.com, 7/18). But THE HILL’s Pete Kasperowicz noted “several members from both parties defended DOD's ability to sponsor sporting events in a bid to win recruits” (THEHILL.com, 7/18).
ALL IN FAVOR? The AP’s Donna Cassata noted the rejected measure “had targeted the money the National Guard spends to sponsor Dale Earnhardt Jr., NASCAR's most popular driver, as well as IndyCar Series driver JR Hildebrand.” It also would have “cut money the Army spends on the National Hot Rod Association drag racing, funds the Marine Corps uses for the Ultimate Fighting Championship and money spent on bass fishing.” The House also rejected an effort by McCollum “to reduce the budget for the military's 140 bands and 5,000 full-time musicians from $388 million to $200 million” (AP, 7/18).