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Panel approves McCollum measure to ban spending on NASCAR

The measure would end the Pentagon’s $80 million annual sponsorship of NASCAR and other events.

WASHINGTON — A U.S. House committee approved a Betty McCollum-backed provision on Thursday to end Defense Department spending on sponsorships for events like NASCAR.

McCollum and Republican Rep. Jack Kingston of Georgia introduced the measure as an amendment to the 2013 defense spending bill. It prohibits taxpayer spending “…used to sponsor professional or semi-professional motorsports, fishing, mixed martial arts, wrestling, or other sporting events or competitors.”

The Pentagon spent $80 million on such sponsorships last year. One of its most high-profile sponsorships, that of the National Guard for Dale Earnhardt Jr.’s #88 car, has cost $136 million over the past five years, according to McCollum’s office.

“At a time when Congress is increasing defense spending by cutting ‘Meals on Wheels’ for vulnerable seniors and nutrition programs for hungry children, it’s time to eliminate wasteful Pentagon spending on NASCAR, fishing and ultimate fighting sponsorships that have nothing to do with our national security,” McCollum said in a statement.

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The St. Paul Democrat has introduced this measure before, but it sputtered without Republican support.

Devin Henry can be reached at dhenry@minnpost.com.