Can Congress Just Reverse the Automatic Cuts in Defense Spending?

A number of lawmakers — primarily Republicans on the House and Senate Armed Services Committees — are laying the groundwork to undo the automatic spending cuts approaching $600 billion that would be imposed on the Pentagon if the congressional debt supercommittee fails to come up with a plan to slash the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years.

Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) is drafting a measure to replace the defense reductions with 5 percent cuts to other parts of the federal budget and a 10 percent decline in pay for members of Congress, reported the New York Times. Similar legislation is being crafted in the House.

Republicans aren’t the only ones vowing to undo the looming cuts. “The sequester will never take place. It’s not going to happen,” Rep. John Garamendi (D-Calif.) told the Times.

The effort is being fueled by a growing sense that the supercommittee will not be successful in striking a deal to trim the deficit, along with warnings from top Pentagon officials that savings beyond the $450 billion in cuts already called for would undermine national security.

CQ Roll Call argues, however, that the chances for the drive to achieve its goal of rolling back the pending cuts are low for a variety of reasons. It would be difficult to advance legislation in the House affecting the budget, especially if it is not offset, and Democrats would oppose further cuts to entitlements, according to the story. Finally, President Obama most likely would veto such a bill.

Some Democrats view the effort as a way to reinforce the apparent refusal of the supercommittee’s Republicans to consider measures that would raise revenue. “Republicans should not count on taking the easy way out of if they continue to resist a balanced deficit deal that includes revenue increases,” New York Sen. Chuck Schumer (D) said, reported the Times.

Dan Cohen
Dan Cohen

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