NASCAR and the Ultimate Fighting Championship will continue to see sponsorship money from the military as the House voted Wednesday to continue spending millions to sponsor sports in an effort to attract recruits.
On a vote of 216-202, the House rejected an amendment by Reps. Jack Kingston, R-GA., and Betty McCollum, D-Min., that would have cut $72.3 million from a $608 billion defense bill for sports sponsorship for fiscal 2013.
The measure would have cut the National Guard’s $26.5 million sponsorship it spends on NASCAR’s most popular driver Dale Earnhardt Jr., and INDYCar Series driver JR Hildebrand. The measure would have also cut money the Army uses on the National Hot Rod Association drag racing, the Marine Corps money to sponsor the Ultimate Fighting Championship and money used to sponsor bass fishing.
Kingston, R-GA., says the sponsorship money is ineffective at attracting recruits and makes no sense when the Army is shrinking from 570,000 to 490,000 and the Marine Corps drops by 20,000. He believes the money should be spent to hire more recruits instead of military sponsorship.
Various sports leagues sent a letter to Republican and Democratic leaders urging them to oppose the amendment, according to ESPN.
“Sports marketing has long been an important element in the U.S. Armed Forces’ efforts to reach young adults and active duty personnel regarding the military’s missions and objectives that serve our country,” said the letter to House Republican and Democratic leaders from NASCAR, IZOD IndyCar series, Major League Baseball, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association.
“The benefits from these types of sponsorships offset the minimal costs to taxpayers,” the letter said.
A Defense official said, “The armed forces don’t need to be told which advertising vehicles, media or arenas that we should or shouldn’t participate in.”
The Republican and Democratic leaders that opposed the amendment believe there is no reason Congress should be telling the Department of Defense how to spend money.
Last week the Army announced it would end its 10-year sponsorship with NASCAR this racing season, but would continue to sponsor the Hot Rod Association.