Defense Hawks on the Offense
To Protect Pentagon Budget
As soon as lawmakers returned to Capitol Hill after their month-long summer recess, defense hawks
launched a public campaign to shield Department of
Defense (DoD) accounts from any further deep cuts.
They are targeting their efforts at the bipartisan
super committee charged with devising a plan by Nov.
24 to reduce the country’s deficit by at least $1.2 trillion — and convincing their colleagues by Dec. 23 to
accept their proposal.
If the 12-member committee fails at its work, it will
automatically trigger painful reductions in government
spending, including a $500 billion across-the-board
cut to defense accounts over the next decade, something the Pentagon considers a worst-case scenario.
That would be the second direct hit to the DoD’s
budget in less than six months. This summer, Congress
agreed to trim the Pentagon’s accounts by $350 billion
over the next 10 years, beginning in 2012.
As a result, Senate appropriators have agreed to
freeze Pentagon spending at fiscal 2011 levels, marking
a $26 billion cut from the Pentagon’s $539 billion
request — not including war funds or military construction accounts — for 2012.
Top Pentagon officials, including Defense Secretary
Leon E. Panetta, have argued against any further cuts.
And on the Hill, House Armed Services Chairman
Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., is leading the
charge to persuade the super committee to protect
McKeon has released a video he considers an open-
ing argument that urges lawmakers to put a “strategic
and human face on what has, to date, been a strictly
budgetary discussion of military spending.”
And he is drafting a more formal and substantive
written argument against defense cuts.
“You cannot just throw out numbers, just cut and
assume that doesn’t have any impact on the fighting
men out in front,” McKeon told reporters Sept. 7. The
$350 billion cut already planned is “pretty high, in and
U.S. MARINE CORPS
U.S. Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of
the House Armed Services Committee, talks to a lieutenant
with 2nd Battalion, 4th Marine Regiment, during mountain
exercise training at the Marine Corps Mountain Warfare
Training Center Bridgeport, Calif., Jan. 28. McKeon is lead-
ing the charge to persuade the congressional deficit reduc-
tion super committee to protect defense spending.