This was a vote on an amendment by Rep. Barney Frank (D-MA) that would have cut $8.5 billion from a Defense Department funding bill. This amendment was offered to legislation providing annual funding for Defense Department programs in fiscal year 2012.
Frank urged support for his amendment: “…This is a dangerous amendment. It's kind of a test of whether or not members of this body believe what they say….We are at a time of austerity. We are at a time when the important programs, valid programs, are being cut back. And we were told by some, everything is on the table, there are no sacred cows, all those metaphors that are supposed to suggest that we will deal with everything…. At a time when we are cutting police officers on the streets of our cities, we are cutting back firefighters, we're cutting back maintenance of highways, of the construction of bridges to replace old bridges, when we are cutting in almost every capacity, the military budget gets a $17 billion increase for this fiscal year to the next. A $17 billion increase for the military budget simply does not fit with this argument that we are putting everything on the table….We are being very moderate here. We are not saying don't give the Pentagon any more money. This amendment reduces by 50 percent the increase for the Pentagon. We are accepting $8.5 billion more.”
Rep. Tom Cole (R-OK) opposed Frank’s amendment: “I think most Americans would be shocked to find out we are engaged in two or three wars, depending on how you want to count, with an Army that is almost 40 percent smaller than it was in 1982….As a percentage of our national wealth, as a percentage of the federal budget, what we spend on defense has come down. And, frankly, we ought to remember that we are at war; we are in a dangerous situation. This is not the first place to cut, although cut we have. In my opinion, I think it is the last place that we ought to cut. And the consequences of what my friend proposes, I think, would be terrific. We would be reducing and canceling training for returning troops, canceling Navy training exercises, reducing Air Force flight training, delaying or canceling maintenance of aircraft, ships, and vehicles, and delaying important safety and quality-of-life repairs. This is not the time for us to embark on additional cuts on top of the restraints in spending that we have already done as a House. I would urge the rejection of my friend's amendment.”
The House rejected Frank’s amendment by a vote of 181-244. Voting “yea” were 134 Democrats—including a majority of progressives—and 47 Republicans. 190 Republicans and 54 Democrats voted “nay.” As a result, the House rejected an amendment that would have cut $8.5 billion from a Defense Department funding bill.