This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. John Sarbanes (D-MD) that would have prohibited the Defense Department from entering into “public-private partnerships” in which work was contracted out to private companies. This amendment was offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Specifically, a provision of the underlying bill lifted a suspension of such Defense-related public-private partnerships. Sarbanes’ amendment would have eliminated that provision from the Defense bill (thus maintaining the prohibition).
Sarbanes urged support for his amendment: “This amendment is designed to preserve current law with respect to the service contracts and outsourcing activity of the Department of Defense. Current law now has in place a requirement that before the Department of Defense can do more outsourcing, can do more privatization of service contracts, they have to do an inventory of the contracting activity that's already in place. And this makes perfect sense. This is really a good government proposition if you think about it. It's important enough that it was included in the 2010 Defense Authorization Act; so it is part of current law. Unfortunately, the proposed bill, the new Defense Authorization Act, would remove this requirement. And if you remove that requirement, you're really undermining the public's stake in making sure that government is functioning in an efficient manner.”
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-VA) opposed the amendment: “I will tell you, when it comes to the workforce, there are some people who don't like the word ``balance.'' They either want every single employee to be a government employee and hired by the government--some on this side, some on this side--but then…there are other people who want everybody to be in the private sector. I think the beauty of this piece of legislation is it struck the right balance for the national defense of this country because it struck a balance. And it said what we realize is from every general, every admiral, everyone who testified: we can no longer do it with just all government employees; we can't do it with all military employees; we can't do it with all contract employees; but every single one of them will tell you we need that mix. The wonderful thing about this piece of legislation that this amendment tries to take away is that it creates a comprehensive approach to workforce management and a total force management, which is what we need to do, the most important thing this legislation does, which is to defend and protect the people of the United States of America.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 198-225. Voting “yea” were 185 Democrats and 13 Republicans. 222 Republicans and 3 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have prohibited the Defense Department from entering into “public-private partnerships” in which work was contracted out to private companies.