( – promoted by DD4RP)
Senators earmarked $2.6 billion in the FY 2010 Defense Appropriation to pet projects. Among the the money diverted from our military men and women was $20 million for the Edward M. Kennedy Institute for the United States Senate. The earmark, sponsored by Sen. John F. Kerry, along with the other earmarks shortchanges the funding that our military desperately needs for operations and maintenance by $165 million. The appropriations bill also came up $4 billion short of what President Obama's administration had requested.
Sen. Tom Coburn (R-OK) attempted to restore the $165 million for operations and maintenance, but his amendment was defeated by a vote of 25-73.
He released the following statement.
“In a time of war it is unconscionable for members of Congress to divert funds from vital operations to Whitney Smith, a spokesman for Mr. Kerry, said the earmark was “a worthy investment.” less-than-vital parochial pork projects. I regret the Senate voted today to protect their pet projects at the expense of our troops,” Dr. Coburn said.
The Pentagon has also expressed concern over the excessive amount of earmarks Congress has requested:
“Every dollar that we are forced to spend on things which we do not need requires us to take money from things which we do need. And the people who lose in that trade-off are our troops and the taxpayers,” said Geoff Morrell, the Pentagon spokesman.
The operations and maintenance (O&M) accounts ensure military readiness by providing much needed funds for training troops for combat and for maintaining tanks, airplanes, ships, and related equipment such as the purchase of spare parts. O&M accounts also fund a wide range of activities such as civilian personnel management and payments, transportation expenses, health care, and child care. In May 2009, the U.S. Navy ran out of O&M funding and had to reduce training hours for carrier air wings and at-sea time for some ships. The earmarks funded in the 2010 Defense appropriations bill raid these accounts that are essential to the protection of our troops and our nation's defense to pay for $165 million or earmarks not requested by the military.
“The Senate is putting favorable headlines back home above our men and women fighting on the front lines. American families are prioritizing and eliminating waste in their own budgets, it is a disgrace that Congress has refused this common sense approach to spending taxpayer dollars,”
Whitney Smith, a spokesman for Mr. Kerry, said the earmark was “a worthy investment.”
I will have to disagree with Mr. Smith. As Sen. Coburn pointed out, the Navy ran out of training funds and was forced to cut back training hours with 5 months left in FY 2009. Those cut backs impose unnecessary risks to an environment that is extremely hazardous when everything is normal. Having been the Aviation Safety Officer in three squadrons during my years as a naval aviator, I know first hand that when training hours are cut, mishap rates increase. If you are unfamiliar with carrier operations watch the two videos, then decide if a memorial to Ted Kennedy is worth risking the lives of these men and women.
Now try it with the lights off