But by late afternoon, members considered an amendment to strike that language from Rep. John Carter (R-Texas). Carter defended military bands by saying they are an "integral part of the patriotism that keeps our soldier's hearts beating fast." Carter also argued that the $200 million cap did not save any money, as funds otherwise used for bands would be allowed to be used for other reasons.
Some, like Norm Dicks (D-Wash.), the ranking member of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee, disagreed. "That's a lot of money," he said, indicating that $200 million is plenty for military music.
Nonetheless, the House approved Carter's language by voice vote. That vote eliminated the $200 million cap, and would allow DOD to spend the roughly $325 million it had planned to spend in 2012.
McCollum complained about the Carter amendment at the time, and five hours later, she was back Wednesday night with a new amendment to restore her cap. Her amendment would cut $125 million from the DOD bill, thus ensuring a $200 million limit on bands.
"Is this Congress really going to raise the debt ceiling so it can pay $325 million for military bands next year with money borrowed from China?" she asked. "The Pentagon does not need any more band aid."
Rep. Rod Freylinghuysen (R-NJ) sided with Carter and called on members to reject McCollum's spending cap language.
The House is expected to vote on the military music amendment, along with several others, on Thursday. The fight over the music amendment is a relatively small fight in the larger context of the DOD spending bill, which includes nearly $650 billion in funding for DOD activities.