Roll Call: Latest News on Capitol Hill, Congress, Politics and Elections
December 28, 2014

GOP Hawks Want Budget Conferees to Ditch Defense Cuts

Defense 04 020613 445x289 GOP Hawks Want Budget Conferees to Ditch Defense Cuts

Armed Services Chairman McKeon has been pushing to avert defense sequestration. (CQ Roll Call File Photo)

Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee have a simple message for conferees starting to hash out a budget deal next week: Do something about automatic defense spending cuts.

As the House and Senate prepare for their first budget conference in four years, 30 of the 34 Republicans on the Armed Services panel wrote a letter decrying the effects of sequestration, saying, “The concern of a hollowing of the force is very real; indeed, the readiness of our forces has already eroded.”

“Continued sequestration would lead to the reduction of an additional 100,000 soldiers, sailors, Marines, and airmen from our Armed Forces, and cancellation of important programs providing key technologies and capabilities that allow our military to stay ahead of the threat,” the letter said.

Conspicuously missing from the Republican signatories are four lawmakers: Mike Coffman of Colorado, Walter B. Jones of North Carolina, Kristi Noem of South Dakota and Rich Nugent of Florida.

Requests for comment from those four Republicans were not immediately returned, but Claude Chafin, the communications director for the House Armed Services Committee, told CQ Roll Call he didn’t believe there was a “common objection.”

While the four Republicans may have differing reasons for not signing, the 30 Republicans who did sign the letter sent a strong message to House Budget Chairman Paul D. Ryan, R-Wis., and Senate Budget Chairman Patty Murray, D-Wash.

As the letter notes, the House Armed Services Committee has held more hearings on sequestration than any other committee in Congress, and Republicans on that panel are some of the most ardent critics of the automatic spending cuts, which were established under the Budget Control Act in 2011.

While Congress once almost universally decried sequestration, many Republicans seem to prefer the automatic cuts to crafting a deal with Democrats that might raise tax revenues. The defense authorizers, however, still remember the days when sequestration was anathema to Congress. And their letter Thursday revives that line of rhetoric.

“The most significant threat to our national defense may be the continued reduction to defense funding without accounting for the impacts of our National Security Strategy,” the letter said.

So the Republicans suggest cutting entitlements.

“The root of the spending problem is unrestrained mandatory outlays,” the letter said.

The lawmakers are urging Ryan and Murray to replace the remaining cuts due under sequestration with entitlement cuts. “Sequestration of discretionary accounts was never intended to be policy,” the letter said.

The lawmakers are part of a growing chorus in the GOP that says sequestration is unworkable. It seems the automatic spending cuts may finally be falling out of favor. And if there were ever a chance for Republicans to replace the remaining roughly $1 trillion in cuts over the next decade, half of which come from defense, the upcoming budget conference is the best chance.

  • The Real John Boehner

    What a crock. Of course they wish this. Are they willing to restore funding to domestic programs and/or raise taxes to achieve it?

    • kernals

      I don’t know but the Democrats are certainly going to find out

  • ivan

    OH my…contractors are crying I guess and losing money to boot.

    “So the Republicans suggest cutting entitlements.

    “The root of the spending problem is unrestrained mandatory outlays,” the letter said.

    The lawmakers are urging Ryan and Murray to replace the remaining cuts due under sequestration with entitlement cuts. “Sequestration of discretionary accounts was never intended to be policy,” the letter said.”
    To me all politicians need to be given time to actually work somewhere that will get their sorry hands dirty. This statement by republicans tells me they are more concerned with profits for their business friends than this nation and its people. If you are not wealthy you men nothing to republicans . You have no use for your own tax money..the general public does not deserve it. IS there waste in government, you bet,.,,we have 535 politicians we waste money on every day.

  • F Michael Addams

    Dump sequestration..see, boys..it’s easy…Now sell it to the teabillies..

  • De Neice Kenehan

    “More please,” ie cuts. We already spend 53 cents of every budget dollar on military-interest. We already spend more money on military than rest of the world combined. We can already destroy any and all nations or launch pin-pointed drone assassinations.

    This is socialism for war contractors. Sen feinstein’s husband’s two companies made over a billion dollars on Iraq War contracts. Get it? War is a racket.

    Enough.

  • WallStreetWindow

    Armed Services Chairman McKeon A.K.A. Bucky, isn’t going to tell you he’s the #1 Military Industrial Complex Lobbyist. Guess where Bucky gets his campaign money from? You guessed it! The very industry/people he’s suppose to run oversight on have paid his political campaigns over $1.6 million to keep Bucky in office working for them NOT we the people.

  • pitch1934

    Every time that some @%&*#@$ repugnant says that the government does not create jobs they should be pointed to the defense industry. Defense spending can be cut with little or no loss of readiness. All that has to be done is to ride herd on the thieves who overcharge the country for “hand held impacting devices” (hammers) and “graduated fastening implements” (screws). How about it D.C.?

  • Paula Sayles

    The People are tired of war. This nation is superbly outfitted to destroy every other nation on earth four times over. The war budget is completely out of proportion with the need it is supposed to address. The People are becoming increasingly aware that defense budget appropriations are decided upon the basis of campaign donations rather than the needs that they are supposed to address. We see that this is a kickback deal and we aren’t happy about it. THE PEOPLE HAVE THEIR EYEBALLS ON YOU; we are hip to your scams and we are tired of them. Keep the cuts for the defense budget and stop using our government as a conduit for creating personal wealth.

  • donpollari

    Enough of the war machine. It was used to bankrupt the USSR and now it’s bankrupting US. There is no rational reason for our country to be spending the obscene amount of money we do on maintaining the military/industrial complex.

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