Washington: Top Republican members of the House Armed Services Committee began today what is clearly intended to be a sustained campaign against further cuts to the Pentagon’s budget.
Rep. Buck McKeon, HASC chairman, and his vice chairman, Rep. Mac Thornberry, met with defense reporters and released a video to press their case that the Pentagon’s half-a-trillion pledged in cuts already is enough. In addition to the video, HASC staff are working a report for the Super Committee and other interested parties to demonstrate effects the defense cuts will have on America’s global posture.
“It may be tempting to make defense a scapegoat…” for the country’s overspending, Thornberry said, adding that “our fiscal problems were not caused by spending too much on defense.”
“We have downsized, and cut back and cut back,” McKeon argued, saying that the country had to begin considering what America could do not do militarily if more extensive cuts were to come.
“There is the danger of a bidding war downward, without an understanding of what the consequences are going to be,” Thornberry said.
McKeon clearly showed the signs of a lawmaker faced with rapid change. “It’s happening so fast it’s just kind of mind boggling,” he said. “We’ve got to sit down with the staff and figure out how this going to affect us.”
Looking closer to the bone, McKeon said there was no chance that Congress would pass a defense spending bill this year, with only 23 days left before the end of the fiscal year. Instead, the House and Senate will pass a Continuing Resolution lumping together much government spending. That will end up as the de facto Pentagon spending bill and, because CR’s generally set spending near the previous year’s level, there will probably be an effective cut in defense spending should a CR pass. “Obviously, there are going to be some more cuts,” McKeon said.