Lawmakers Vow to Overturn New DOD Spending Cuts in Wake of Deficit Panel’s Failure
Some of Congress’ most ardent supporters of the nation’s military reiterated their pledges to reverse the automatic spending cuts slated to slash defense spending by an additional $600 billion after the congressional debt supercommittee conceded Monday that it had failed to reach agreement on a deficit reduction plan.
“We are now working on a plan to minimize the impact of the sequester on the Department of Defense and to ensure that any cuts do not leave us with a hollow military,” Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), ranking member of the Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), who also serves on the committee, said in a joint statement.
“The first responsibility of any government is to provide for the common defense; we will pursue all options to make certain that we continue to fulfill that solemn commitment,” they added.
On the House side, Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-Calif.) made a similar vow. “I will not be the Armed Services chairman who presides over crippling our military,” he said in a written statement.
With divided control of Congress and the White House — at least for another year — it’s not clear defense hawks wield enough power to undo the automatic cuts to the Pentagon’s budget, which come on top of the $450 billion in savings already imposed on the department over the next decade as part of August’s agreement to raise the debt limit.
In fact, President Obama on Monday repeated his recent warning that he would veto any effort to overturn the $1.2 trillion in automatic cuts, which would be split equally between defense and non-defense programs.
“There will be no easy off ramps on this one. We need to keep the pressure up to compromise — not turn off the pressure,” Obama told the White House media. ”The only way these spending cuts will not take place is if Congress gets back to work and agrees on a balanced plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion,” he added.
Industry analysts interviewed by the Street, however, were confident that the automatic cuts in defense spending would not kick in.
“There are certainly valid reasons to be afraid, but the idea of this serious cut actually being implemented in this political climate is very limited,” said Richard Aboulafia of the Teal Group.