This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Jerry Nadler (D-NY) that would have provided $15 million for insulating facilities at military bases in Afghanistan. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Defense Department programs.
Nadler urged support for his amendment: “…I offer an amendment tonight that will save both blood and an immense amount of money. The amendment I am introducing along with Congressman Blumenauer designates already authorized funds in the amount of $15 million to be used to insulate the shelters at forward operating bases in Afghanistan. Properly insulating military shelters can significantly reduce energy consumption, which in turn can decrease the number of vulnerable fuel convoys needed to support our troops. These fuel convoys cost us dearly. They are an absolutely vital supply link to our troops in the field, but they are exposed to constant and devastating attack. Despite the Pentagon spending $24 billion a year to protect fuel convoys in Afghanistan, more than 3,000 troops and civilian contractors have been killed or wounded while riding on convoy. What's more, fully two-thirds of the fuel used in Afghanistan goes to provide electricity for air-conditioning and heat at military installations. If we can reduce the energy required to heat and cool shelters in the field, then we can reduce the number of vulnerable fuel trucks needed to support the operations. Simply put, insulating the structures in the field will save lives of people who will not be on convoys to be attacked.”
Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) opposed Nadler’s amendment. He argued that the shelter insulation program had not been “authorized” by Congress. (Before passing legislation that actually spends money on a government program, it must first pass a bill to “authorize” such funding to be spent on that program.) Young also argued that such an insulation program could be funded through the underlying Defense bill’s war funding “operations and maintenance account,” which totaled more than $39 billion. Young said: “The project that would be funded by this amendment, by the shifting of this money, is not an authorized program to begin with. But even if it were, the Army's O&M [operation and maintenance] account in the OCO portion [war funding portion, or “overseas contingency operations” portion] of the bill is funded at over $39.1 billion. And… [if] the [Defense] Department concurs that it is a high enough priority, then there simply are ample funds to cover it with the $39.1 billion. So I see no reason for this amendment, and I oppose the amendment.”
The House rejected Nadler’s amendment by a vote of 174-251. Voting “yea” were 162 Democrats—including a majority of progressives--and 12 Republicans. 223 Republicans and 28 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have provided $15 million for insulating facilities at military bases in Afghanistan.