This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Jared Polis (D-CO) that would have reduced the number of U.S. troops stationed in Europe from 80,000 to 30,000 over five years. This amendment was offered to legislation authorizing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Polis urged support for his amendment: “Given our looming fiscal crisis and record deficits, it's critical that we look at smart spending cuts in a responsible way that doesn't hurt our national security--in fact, the budget deficit and our huge national debt are a threat to national security by making us economically beholden to foreign powers--and I propose an amendment that would do just that….Our European allies…are some of the richest countries in the world. So why are we subsidizing their defense spending? Our European allies have enjoyed a free ride on the American dime for years now. The average American spends over $2,500 on defense; the average European $500. If Europe, itself, has made the decision it can afford to spend less on defense, shouldn't we be confident that we can spend less on their defense as well?”
Rep. Mike Turner (R-OH) opposed the amendment: “The gentleman [Rep. Polis] is correct that this is a time of deficits and concerns about spending, but he is not correct that this doesn't hurt our national security. He also states that our troops in Europe are not needed, and that is absolutely not the case. Those troops that are there not only protect us and our European allies, but they also are essential to the operations that we're supporting around the globe, including the important operations in Afghanistan and in Iraq….The essential problem with this amendment is that it's arbitrary. Our troop strengths are based on extensive studies. There are whole books written about how you look to assessing threats, how you look to our overall assets, how you support the capabilities that we have in supporting our national defense. These are just arbitrary numbers that have been picked as to our withdrawal from Europe.”
The House rejected this amendment by a vote of 96-323. Voting “yea” were 79 Democrats—including a majority of progressives--and 17 Republicans. 217 Republicans and 106 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have reduced the number of U.S. troops stationed in Europe from 80,000 to 30,000 over five years.