What: All Issues : War & Peace : HR 1585. (Fiscal 2008 Defense authorization bill), Tierney of Massachusetts amendment to reduce funding for missile defense programs by $1.1 billion/On agreeing to the amendment (2007 house Roll Call 367)
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HR 1585. (Fiscal 2008 Defense authorization bill), Tierney of Massachusetts amendment to reduce funding for missile defense programs by $1.1 billion/On agreeing to the amendment
house Roll Call 367     May 17, 2007
Progressive Position:
Yea
Progressive Result:
Loss

This was a vote on an amendment to the fiscal 2008 defense authorization bill, offered by John Tierney, D-Mass., that would have axed some $1.1 billion in funding for several existing missile defense systems – about a 20 percent cut.

Conceptually, a national missile defense system is intended to shield America from attacks by long-range missiles. But these systems -- dubbed “Star Wars” when they were first introduced by President Ronald Reagan in 1981 – have over the years been a favorite target of progressive politicians, many of whom believe that they encourage nuclear proliferation, are outdated, ineffectual and a money sink besides.

Tierney said his amendment targeted several high-risk, long-term missile defense systems that he believes do not warrant federal money for many of those reasons. “This Congress should not continue to acquiesce in the authorization on this deeply flawed system. We have to come to terms with certain stubborn realities and have the courage to change course,” Tierney said.

Republicans, along with Ike Skelton, D-Mo. , the chairman of the powerful Armed Services Committee, sought to preserve the program. Skelton  said  the underlying bill already shaved $764 million from missile defense systems, and that to cut more could jeopardize America’s defenses. “This amendment would effectively terminate most, if not all, of the Missile Defense Agency’s longer term research and development programs. Given the dynamic security environment we find ourselves in today, I don’t believe it is prudent to do this,” Skelton said. In the past, Skelton has backed Republicans on rolling out new missile defense systems. He has said he believes they could help fend off missile attacks from North Korea and other rogue states.

Many Democrats who opposed the amendment took much the same position, suggesting that while they shared concerns about the efficiency and usefulness of some of the Pentagon’s missile defense programs, the current threat to American security was too imminent to make such a drastic cut.

The amendment was defeated on a 299-127 vote. Democrats were split on the amendment (124-105), with Progressives mostly voting yes.  Three Republicans also voted yes – Ron Paul, R-Texas, who supports most efforts to trim government spending; Jimmy Duncan, R-Tenn., who has opposed the administration on some defense issues; and Mike Castle, R-Del., who is one of the most moderate Republicans in the House. Thus, Tierney’s amendment to erase $1.1 billion in funding for missile defense programs was defeated.

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