Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R), one of the congressional deficit reduction committee’s 12 members, last week said he would not support trimming future defense spending beyond cuts lawmakers already agreed to under the recent agreement to raise the nation’s debt limit.
Congress already approved slashing DOD spending by between $350 billion and $500 billion over 10 years, Kyl said at a forum Thursday sponsored by the American Enterprise Institute.
The Arizona senator, reported CQ Today, said he had told the other Republican members on the deficit reduction commission that he would be “off of the committee if we are going to talk about further defense spending. First, we did discretionary spending in the budget act; and second, defense was half of that even though it’s not half of the budget; and third, we can’t afford any more … so we’re not going there.”
The Obama administration has estimated that the first round of cuts called for under the debt ceiling deal would reduce the Pentagon’s budget by only $350 billion.
On the other hand, Kyl stressed the consequences if the committee fails to reach agreement to cut the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. In that case, automatic spending cuts would be triggered, split equally between defense and non-defense programs with DOD absorbing up to $600 billion in cuts.
Kyl vowed to overturn the automatic spending cuts under that scenario, declaring “it would kill defense.”