Obama's defense bill protects N.J.'s Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst from closure

Obama signed the legislation, who sets U.S. defense policy for the next 12 months, without fanfare. He had vetoed an earlier version after congressional Republicans tried to get around spending caps for the Defense Department but refused to do the same for domestic programs.

The National Defense Authorization Act reflects higher defense and domestic spending in a two-year budget bill agreed to by Obama and Congress.

For New Jersey, the law means that the Pentagon cannot spend money to retire the KC-10 refueling tanker planes currently stationed at McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst, nor begin a new round of military base closings.

N.J. lawmakers had been concerned that the facility would be scaled back or closed under any program to reduce the number or size of Pentagon bases.

The law also bans "pay for patriotism" promotions, in which taxpayer-funded troop salutes were held at sporting events as part of military recruiting efforts. 

NJ Advance Media first reported on the practice in May after U.S. Sen. Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.) cited it as one of his examples of wasteful government spending. Flake co-authored a ban included in the Senate version of the defense bill and U.S. Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-2nd Dist.) added an amendment to the House version as well.

Flake and U.S. Sen. John McCain reported in November that 50 professional sports teams, including the New York Mets and New York Jetssaluted U.S. troops with the help of American taxpayers as part of the Pentagon's recruitment efforts. The list also included NASCAR, Indiana University and the University of Wisconsin. The cost to taxpayers was more than $10 million.

[Original Article]