None of the 12 lawmakers named to the congressional committee tasked with trimming the deficit by $1.5 trillion is considered a defense hawk, but defense proponents say there still are reasons to believe the Pentagon’s budget largely will be spared a second round of deep cuts.
Their hopes primarily rest on the prospect that the committee will come to some sort of ‘grand bargain’ and avoid triggering up to $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, half of which would be imposed on DOD.
According to one House Armed Services Committee staffer’s take on the selections of House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), the super committee will focus on entitlements, reported the Hill newspaper. “And that is entirely appropriate since there are no more savings possible in the DOD budget,” the aide said.
Defense supporters also are pinning their hopes on two members from the Senate — Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.). They note that Murray is a strong advocate for Boeing and Kyl is a backer of Raytheon due to the presence of those defense manufacturers in their states.
Still, the largest risk to Pentagon spending lies in the likelihood that the committee deadlocks and the automatic spending cuts go into effect. That outcome is more likely than not, Bob Bixby, executive director of the Concord Coalition, told GovernmentExecutive.com.
Three of the committee members — Sen. Max Baucus (D-Mont.), Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) and Rep. Dave Camp (R-Mich.) — all served on the Simpson-Bowles commission created by the president, but voted against its plan to reduce the deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases, Bixby pointed out. A fourth member, Rep. Xavier Becerra (D-Calif.), named after Bixby was interviewed, also voted against the Simpson-Bowles commission’s $4 trillion deficit reduction plan, reported CQ Today.