This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Mick Mulvaney (R-SC) that would have cut $17.2 billion from a Defense Department funding bill. This $17.2 billion cut would have frozen Defense Department spending at fiscal year 2011 levels. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Defense Department programs in fiscal year 2012.
Mulvaney urged support for his amendment: “ This amendment will not in any way limit our national defense capabilities. It will not put a single soldier at more risk. It simply holds defense spending exactly where we were 3 months ago…Having been here [the House of Representatives] about 6 months, there is one thing that I have learned being a freshman. And for the folks who are here for the first time, the message is this: talk is cheap. Talk is especially cheap. It's very easy for us to go home and tell folks how important it is to cut spending, how serious we are about cutting spending. But nothing sends the message that we are really serious about it like cutting spending on something that is important to us. It's easy to cut things that we don't like. It is hard to cut things that are important to us. And defense spending is critically important to me and to the folks of this Nation and to the folks of South Carolina. But if we're going to send a message that we are really serious about cutting spending, then everything needs to be on the table. And holding defense spending simply at 2011 levels and passing this amendment would help show everybody that we are really serious about fixing this difficulty.”
Rep. Bill Young (R-FL) opposed Mulvaney’s amendment: “I am one of the original budget cutters in this Congress. But I will not cut a defense budget to the point that it adversely affects our troops or adversely affects our country's readiness. And we could be getting close to that…. we don't want to see that we have to cancel training for returning troops. We don't want to have to cancel Navy training exercises. We don't want to have to slow down or reduce Air Force flight training. We don't want to delay or cancel maintenance of aircraft, ships, and vehicles. We don't want to delay important safety and quality-of-life repairs to facilities and to military barracks. If we do those things, we are affecting our readiness. Training relates to readiness….This amendment could be getting us very close to a dangerous situation where troops and readiness are affected. And there is just no way that I can even appear to support this amendment.”
The House rejected Mulvaney’s amendment by a vote of 135-290. Voting “yea” were 70 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 65 Republicans. 172 Republicans and 118 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have cut $17.2 billion from a Defense Department funding bill and frozen Defense spending at fiscal year 2011 levels.