Sen. James Inhofe (R-OK) wants a piece of the $800 billion economic stimulus package under debate in the Senate this week to go to defense.
To that end, Inhofe introduced an amendment today that would add $5.2 billion to the Defense Department's procurement accounts via the stimulus bill to manufacture or acquire vehicles, equipment, ammunition, and materials required to reconstitute military units, he said on the Senate floor.
"Investing in our nation’s defense provides thousands of sustainable American jobs and provides for our nation’s security," he added. "Major defense procurement programs are all manufactured in the U.S. with our aerospace industry alone employing more than 655,000 workers spread across over most of the U.S."
It is clear that infrastructure investment, along with defense spending and tax cuts, has a greater stimulative impact on the economy than anything else the government can do.
If our infrastructure needs repair, we equally need the tools to reconstruct military readiness. . . .
So we're accomplishing two things here: We're providing the jobs, we're also rebuilding our military.
Specifically, Inhofe's amendment would allow the buying of "aircraft, tracked and non-tracked combat vehicles, missiles, weapons, ammunition, communications equipment, maintenance equipment, naval coastal warfare boats, salvage equipment, riverine equipment, expeditionary material handling equipment, and other expeditionary items."
Inhofe emphasized that his amendment doesn't increase the cost of the bill because it also includes the following offsets that he said "highlight a part of the frivolous spending" included in the legislation that many Republicans have criticized. Those offsets include:
* $20 million for fish passage barrier removal,
* $20 million for trail improvements,
* $25 million for habitat restoration,
* $34 million to renovate the Commerce Department,
* $600 million for the federal government to buy cars – specifically hybrid and battery cars,
* $13 million to research volunteer activities,
* $650 million in coupons for digital TV (DTV) transition,
* $70 million for a support computer for climate change research,
* $1 billion for the Census,
* $850 million for Amtrak, and
* $2 billion reduction from $6 billion to use 'green technology' to revamp federal office buildings.
"This is a common sense amendment with real stimulative impact," Inhofe said. His spokesman told InsideDefense.com that a vote on the amendment could come later this afternoon.
UPDATE (Feb. 6): The amendment was defeated Feb. 5 "on a budget point of order" by a 38-59 vote, according to Inhofe's spokesman.
-- John Liang