Obama Rules out Overturning Automatic Cuts in Defense Spending
In separate phone calls Friday to the co-chairs of the congressional debt supercommittee, President Obama warned that he would not accept any legislation to reverse the automatic spending cuts that would be imposed in 2013 if the panel fails to reach agreement on a plan to reduce the deficit by $1.2 trillion.
“The sequester was agreed to by both parties to ensure there was a meaningful enforcement mechanism to force a result from the committee. Congress must not shirk its responsibilities,” according to a White House readout of the conversations.
Obama’s comments seemed to be aimed at House and Senate defense hawks that recently have talked about advancing legislation to undo the automatic spending cuts that would require the Pentagon to trim up to $600 billion in spending over the next decade. Those cuts would come on top of the $450 billion in defense cuts already looming. The effort to shield DOD’s budget comes as the supercommittee’s deadline approaches without a clear compromise in sight that would meet the panel’s deficit reduction target.
Earlier this week, Republican Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) vowed to fight a budget sequester. “I hope the supercommittee can do its job, but we can’t just live on hope around here,” Graham said, according to the Washington Post. “If the committee fails, I am not going to allow the triggers to be pulled that would shoot the Defense Department in the head.”