Minn. Rep. McCollum: Strike Out $120 Million for Military Bands

Thursday, 07 Jul 2011 01:31 PM

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Not even military bands are safe from budget cutters in an era of fiscal austerity. Rep. Betty McCollum, D-Minn., is trying to cut $120 million from the $320 million that supports 154 bands in the Army, Navy, Air Force, and Marines, The Washington Post reported.

Cuts are being made in education, healthcare, and music in public schools while spending on military bands is growing, McCollum said. Defense Department figures show that the service bands cost $297 million in fiscal 2009 and will hit $320 million this year, according to the Post.

“What is the right note to hit in military bands?” she said.

Marine band, chamber, Obama
The U.S. Marine Chamber Orchestra performs during a Hanukkah reception President Barack Obama hosted at the White House on Dec. 2. (Getty Images Photo)
Bands have been a fixture in the U.S. military since an act of Congress created the Marine Band in 1798. The Marine Band, known as “The President’s Own,” plays at White House events and each service band has smaller bands and choral groups. The bands feature professional musicians who have advanced music degrees and are chosen during auditions.

The bands are not without congressional support. Rep. John Carter, R-Texas, penned a joint letter with House Army Caucus co-chairman, Rep. Silvestre Reyes, D-Texas, that described reductions as “highly detrimental to our armed forces” because they “uphold pride and morale through music at funerals, welcome-home celebrations, concerts, ceremonies and other espirit-de-corps events,” the Post reported.

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