Congress Ignores Army, Pushes for More Tanks

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Members of both parties in Congress are pushing to spend an extra $436 million on the M1 Abrams tank against the wishes of senior Army officials who say they don't need any more.

Critics say the push is coming from lawmakers in Ohio where the tanks are made, suggesting keeping the Abrams production in demand protects businesses and quality jobs in the congressional districts where suppliers are located.

However, Army officials say the tanks are not needed.

"If we had our choice, we would use that money in a different way," Gen. Ray Odierno, the Army's chief of staff, told The Associated Press this past week.

Lawmakers said their support is rooted in protecting national security.

"The one area where we are supposed to spend taxpayer money is in defense of the country," said Rep Jim Jordan, R-Ohio, whose district includes the tank plant.

Meanwhile, others claim it is another example of pork-barrel politics and why it will be difficult to cut many spending projects out of the budget.

The Abrams dilemma highlights the challenges faced by Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel as he seeks to purge superfluous military programs in order to reserve money for essential operations, training and equipment.

 

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