This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Ron Kind (D-WI) that would have prohibited federal funds from being used for Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles (assault vehicles designed by the U.S. Marine Corps that could travel on land or water) and the “Surface-Launched Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile program (SLAMRAAM--a missile defense system designed to defend against short to medium-range missiles). This amendment was offered to a continuing resolution funding the federal government through September 2011, and cutting $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs.
Kind urged support for his amendment: “…If we're going to be serious about true deficit reduction, the defense aspect of the federal budget also has to be on the table. And what better place to start than by listening to our own military leaders who continually tell this Congress: stop appropriating money for weapons systems we don't want, that we don't want to use, that aren't necessary, they don't enhance military readiness, and they are not going to support our troops in the field. And these two programs fit that bill…. The defense budget should also be fair game for scrutiny and transparency and cost savings. And what better place to start than where our own military leaders are instructing us to go: weapons programs they don't need, will save money, reduce the redundancy, and help deal with the budget deficits that we're facing.”
Rep. Norm Dicks (D-WA) opposed the amendment, arguing the two programs which Kind sought to prohibit funding for were already being phased out: “The Expeditionary Fighting Vehicle is coming to an end…. It makes me cringe that they have spent $3 billion on this, but for an additional $34 million, we can finish the R&D [research and development] phase of this program…. Then we don't have to pay $145 million, as I understand it, in termination costs. I think it is just wise to get the final research done….SLAMRAAM is…coming to an end. It is being terminated as well, and we support that. Again, I think we should reject the gentleman's amendment, but the outcome of what he is talking about will be achieved in the very near future.”
Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) responded: “As I understand the arguments [of Rep. Dicks]…we are going to get rid of these [programs] eventually, but let's not do it too quickly because we might save money prematurely. I have never heard a weaker defense for continuing to spend money, that at some point we are going to stop. So why not stop now? So I think the gentleman from Wisconsin [Rep. Kind] ought to be supported.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 123-306. Voting “yea” were 111 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 12 Republicans. 227 Republicans and 79 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have prohibited funds provided by a continuing resolution from being used for Expeditionary Fighting Vehicles and the “Surface-Launched Advanced Medium-Range Air-to-Air Missile program.”