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Congressman Tom McClintock

Representing the 4th District of California

House Overwhelming Approves Huffman/McClintock Amendment to Halt Costly Coal Shipments to U.S. Military Bases in Germany

June 16, 2016
Press Release

Washington, D.C.- For the second year in a row, the House of Representatives today overwhelmingly passed a bipartisan amendment offered by Rep. Jared Huffman (D-CA) and Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) to strike a congressional earmark from the 2017 Defense Appropriations Bill that would spend millions of dollars to ship Pennsylvania coal over 3,000 miles to American military bases in Germany. 

The “zombie” earmark, which was first included in the annual defense spending bill in 1972, requires the Department of Defense to purchase anthracite coal from Pennsylvania to heat military bases at Kaiserslautern, Germany. Until the Huffman-McClintock effort last year to bury the nearly half-century old earmark, Congress had approved the earmark every year since 1972.

“Just last year, Congress finally acted to save taxpayers millions of dollars by ridding ourselves of this zombie earmark,” said Huffman. “We proved that Republicans and Democrats can work together to cut wasteful spending while protecting the environment. But somehow this zombie provision — from the deepest days of the Cold War, and the golden era of congressional earmarks — somehow that provision was snuck back into this year's bill. It just won't die. Burning dirty coal and our taxpayer dollars to power our overseas military bases is a terrible deal for Americans. I thank all my colleagues on both sides of the aisle who did the right thing today to ensure that this wasteful earmark was buried yet again.”

“I do not support the war on coal waged by this administration and my friends on the left,” said Congressman McClintock. “I do support the war on waste, and I support this amendment based on that fiscal imperative.  We are told that our defense budget is so stretched that we must scavenge museums for aircraft parts. Yet there appears to be plenty of money to squander in a corrupt earmark that dates back to 1961.  If we don’t change the spending trajectory of this government, the Congressional Budget Office warns that in six years, interest on the national debt will exceed what we spent this year on defense.  That makes rooting out waste like this a national defense imperative.”

At its peak, the earmark mandated the government purchase more than a million tons of coal each year to power overseas defense installations. The Department of Defense purchases 5,000 to 9,000 tons of coal annually to meet the requirement in Kaiserslautern, costing taxpayers millions. According to a 1989 joint study of the Departments of Defense, State, and Commerce, mandates to use U.S. coal at defense installations in Europe cost taxpayers approximately $1.1 billion between 1962 and 1988.

The amendment was supported by the following national organizations:

Sierra Club, Earthjustice, NRDC, Taxpayers for Common Sense, National Taxpayers Union, Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW), R Street, Less Government, Taxpayer Protection Alliance, the Coalition to Reduce Spending, Campaign for Liberty, Friends Committee on National Legislation (FCNL), Council for a Livable World, London Center for Policy Research, Project on Government Oversight, Women’s Action for New Directions, and Heritage Action.


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