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McCollum Speaks on Amendment to Prohibit Wasteful Pentagon Spending

June 14, 2013

June 13th, 2013

Mr. Speaker,

The Army National Guard is spending over $53 million in taxpayer funds this year to sponsor World Wrestling Entertainment and motor sports racing. That’s right, at a time of enormous federal budget deficits, endless borrowing from China, sequestration harming military readiness, and deep cuts to services for vulnerable children, seniors and people with disabilities – the Army National Guard is spending $53,586,000 to have its logo highlighted at World Wrestling Entertainment events, that’s the fake wrestling, and to sponsor NASCAR racing and Indy car racing.

After years of congressional debate, the Army National Guard still cannot provide data –zero statistics – to demonstrate anyone has signed a recruiting contract as a result of this program.

This is an amendment both liberals and Tea Party conservatives should agree upon. The fact that $53 million in taxpayer funds is going to sponsor some of the most vulgar, violent and sexist entertainment on television – the fake pro wrestling – and NASCAR racing teams that results in ZERO recruits is a waste of money and should be stopped.

I am a member of the Defense Appropriations subcommittee. Over and over these past months our subcommittee has heard from military leaders that sequestration is causing a crisis: military readiness is diminished, hundreds of thousands of critical civilian Pentagon employees are being furloughed (231,000), and vital services like access to mental health care are being cut.

In fact, the National Guard testified that because of sequestration 115,000 traditional National Guard forces will not receive their annual medical or dental examinations.

The Guard says, “this reduction in examinations will bring total force medical readiness down by 39%.” Yet, the National Guard can afford to pay one NASCAR race car driver $29 million and pay another driver $14 million for Indy car racing? Clearly this is a case of misplaced priorities.

This Congress has to make tough choices and smart cuts. Terminating this wasteful, ineffective program is an easy choice unless you have NASCAR race track in your state and you want to protect this government handout to millionaire race car drivers and owners.

In the past, some of my fiscally conservative colleagues from North Carolina and Florida made the claim that cutting this waste  was “micromanaging” the Pentagon. My job isn’t to protect race track owners or millionaire race car drivers. Cutting government waste and protecting taxpayers is not micromanaging – it’s doing our job!

In recent years the Army, Navy, and Marine Corps have all terminated NASCAR sponsorships because these sponsorships fail to meet their recruiting goals. They are making other more effective investments with recruiting dollars. The Army is sponsoring high school football –the All-American Bowl – fantastic. They are also sponsoring robotics competitions to engage with and help our young people develop the skills to best serve our nation in the Armed Forces. The very best marketing and branding the Army National Guard gets is not from a logo on a race car or a violent wrestling performance –it’s from the life saving work our National Guardsmen and women perform during times of crisis in our communities – during the flood, the forest fire, the natural disaster.

I am so proud of the service and sacrifice of the Minnesota National Guards men and women who have served our nation in Kosovo, Iraq, in Afghanistan and at home in Minnesota over the past decade. They are heroes.

Opponents of my amendment believe a $29 million tax payer funded logo on a race car resulting in National Guard recruits and re-enlistments. The Army National Guard has failed to provide any data, no program measures, that this program has resulted in any recruits – zero data, zero recruits.

This Republican Congress is cutting poor kids off the school lunch program and kicking them out of head start to save money.

This Congress is willing to inflict sequestration on our military and undermine readiness.

This amendment gives Members an opportunity to cut real waste.

I urge you to support the McCollum Amendment.