House votes to allow DoD to keep sponsoring NASCAR

The House on Wednesday night removed language in the 2013 Department of Defense spending bill that would have prevented DOD from sponsoring NASCAR or other sporting events as part of its recruiting efforts.

The funding limitation language was placed in the bill by Reps. Jack Kingston (R-Ga.) and Betty McCollum (D-Minn.), when the bill was in committee. But House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said he would raise a point of order against it on the floor.

Rep. Steve Palazzo (R-Miss.) raised that point of order Wednesday evening, and it was successfully upheld by the presiding officer.

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Kingston and McCollum knew the amendment would get kicked out, and prepared an amendment to the bill adding it back in. But that amendment was rejected late Wednesday in a close 202-216 vote in which most Republicans opposed it and most Democrats supported it.

The amendment was the subject of a lengthy debate earlier in the day, in which Kingston charged that DOD speeds $72 million, supposedly on recruiting efforts, but has no way to measure whether the effort works.

"This program has no accountability," Kingston said. "In February, our office… asked the Pentagon, what are your hard numbers? If you're spending $72 million sponsoring major sports programs, what are you getting out of it?

"And they couldn't come up with it," he said. "Now, that disturbs me as a fiscal conservative, because I want to believe that if the Pentagon is spending that much money on something, they can defend it."

McCollum added that the Army tested its recruiting efforts related to motor sports, and found it wasn't working. The Army stopped NASCAR sponsorship earlier this year.

"It doesn't work, and that's why the Army has dropped it," she said.

But several members from both parties defended DOD's ability to sponsor sporting events in a bid to win recruits.

"I think it's highly inappropriate for this Congress to get into the business of specifying how best the National Guard, or whatever branch, should spend their dollars on recruiting," Rep. Patrick McHenry (R-N.C.) said.

Rep. Sue Myrick (R-N.C.) added that the Kingston-McCollum language would not have the effect of saving any money.

"The biggest issue here is, this approach is not going save a dime in the long run, because when recruitment goals aren't met… the military pays out nearly $1 billion a year in extra recruitment bonuses to maintain needed recruitment numbers," she said.

A vote on the effort by Kingston and McCollum to place the language back into the bill is expected later Wednesday night.

— Jeremy Herb contributed.

— This story was updated at 9:42 p.m. to add the late vote.

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