This was a vote on an amendment, offered by Rep. Franks (R-AZ) to the bill providing fiscal year 2010 funding for the Defense Department. The amendment would have increased funding for the Missile Defense Agency by $1.2 billion, with offsetting reductions coming from environmental defense cleanup programs.
Franks first said that nuclear weapons connected to intercontinental ballistic missiles represent the greatest current danger, that the threat is increasing and claimed: “(T)he enemies of the United States are defiantly developing delivery systems for those devastating weapons.” He went on to say: “(D)espite the threat increase, this bill slashes by 35 percent the only system that we have that is tested and proven to protect the homeland against Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles.” He argued that “while that threat is increasing, our budget in Congress to effect (sic) missile defense is decreasing.”
Franks also said that the Obama Administration, which proposed the reduction, and “those who support these cuts have created a false choice between (international) defense and homeland defense. If this Congress can find $787 billion for a so-called stimulus economic package, then we have no excuse but to also fund both (international) defense and the national defense of the American people.”
Rep. Tauscher (D-CA), a member of the Armed Services Committee who resigned shortly after this bill was debated to become Under Secretary of Defense for Arms Control and International Security, opposed the amendment. She described herself as a strong supporter of missile defense and noted that the bill already provided $9.3 billion for that purpose. Tauscher also said this amount “supports our efforts to build a robust defense against threats from rogue nations . . . and increases funding for proven missile defense systems . . . by $900 million over the budget level of last year.”
Tauscher also argued that an increase in this area would be “wasteful, unnecessary spending” and said Defense Secretary Gates had testified that “the efficacy of the missile defense system (is) not enhanced by continuing to put money into programs that in terms of their operational concept are fatally flawed or research programs that are essentially sinkholes for taxpayer dollars.” She went on to say that advocates of the missile defense program mistakenly just want to spend money on it. Tauscher noted that $120 billion had been spent on missile defense over the last 10 years, “but unless you have oversight and unless you have an operationally effective system to protect against the existing threats and deploy those systems to protect our forward-deployed troops, the American people and our allies, it is just spending money after money after money.”
The amendment was defeated by a vote of 171-244. One hundred and fifty-nine Republicans and twelve Democrats voted “aye”. Two hundred and thirty-one Democrats and thirteen Republicans voted “nay”. As a result, the amount provided for the Missile Defense Agency was not increased beyond the figure that was in the 2010 fiscal year Defense Department funding bill.