If National Guard recruiters want to keep sponsoring Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s racing team, the U.S. House is willing to keep providing millions of dollars for the right to back No. 88.
An effort to ban the military from spending $72.3 million on sponsorships was defeated on a bipartisan vote of 216-202 -- a victory for Nascar, the National Football League and the National Basketball Association, which lobbied against the proposal.
“I say let the military run the recruiting as they have done successfully for all these years,” said Representative Bill Young of Florida, chairman of the House Appropriations Defense Subcommittee.
“When we start micromanaging advertising programs that try to recruit National Guard members, we’ve sort of slipped into the absurd,” said North Carolina Republican Patrick McHenry. “This is a huge return for the buck. This is why Fortune 500 companies actually advertise through Nascar.”
The vote didn’t fall along party lines. The dispute was between backers of the sponsorships and lawmakers who said they are a luxury the nation can’t afford.
It would be “irresponsible and outrageous” for Congress to continue allowing the Pentagon to sponsor sports while cutting funding for services that aid struggling families and communities, said Minnesota Democrat Betty McCollum.
“We can spend this money a lot better than we are today,” said Georgia Republican Jack Kingston, who offered the defeated amendment.
The Army has said that it doesn’t intend to sponsor a Nascar team after this year, saying the spending can’t be justified.
Sports marketing is the “most efficient tool” to reach potential recruits, the sports industry said in a July 16 letter to House leaders.
“As major companies and nonprofits know well, sports marketing is a unique opportunity to reach young adults,” the organizations wrote. “Given the success of the military’s use of professional sports to reach out to the American people, we encourage you to support the U.S. Armed Forces and enable them to continue to have the same access to media and venues as world leading businesses and nonprofits.”
The sponsorship debate came as the House works on legislation that would provide $608.2 billion for the U.S. military next year.
The bill number is H.R. 5856.
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