This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) that would have effectively limited the number of U.S. troops stationed in Europe to 35,000. (Technically, the amendment would have prohibited funds provided by a “continuing resolution”—which funded the federal government through September 2011, and cut $61 billion in federal funding for many government programs—from being used to keep more than 35,000 American troops stationed in Europe.)
Polis urged support for his resolution: “My amendment would save hundreds of millions of dollars by reducing our troop count in Europe. Instead of having over 80,000 troops in Europe where they are no longer needed, we would reduce the amount of troops in Europe to 35,000. This would allow the Department of Defense to save money by closing bases in Europe that don't have any strategic rationale. Deploying our troops out of Europe and closing these bases is an excellent way to help reduce expenditures and save money….This step would save $278 million and improve our national security….The U.S. taxpayer did not sign up to defend wealthy European democracies from imaginary threats forever. These bases cost U.S. taxpayers millions and millions of dollars….There's no reason for us to subsidize European defense while every other aspect of our government we are looking at for cuts.”
Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) opposed the amendment: “…There is no strategic rationale for this amendment. This amendment is completely arbitrary in the cuts that are proposed, and there is no basis for these levels of cuts that are proposed. In fact, the strategic rationale is for the support of our troops that are currently serving in Europe….These troops are not just staring down a past Soviet Union. They are, in fact, providing wartime support currently. They are also providing an effective deterrent both for our allies and for the United States….These troops are actively providing protection both to our allies and to the United States and play a vital role in what is wartime operational capability.
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 74-351. Voting “yea” were 69 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 5 Republicans. 232 Republicans and 119 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment to a continuing resolution that would have effectively limited the number of U.S. troops stationed in Europe to 35,000.