GOP Lawmakers Push Legislation
To Delay ‘Catastrophic’ Defense Cuts
Fearing even deeper cuts to the Pentagon’s budget han the $487 billion already planned for the next
decade, hawkish Republicans on Capitol Hill are pushing legislation to at least delay the automatic, across-the-board cuts — called sequestration — that would
hit the Pentagon next January if Congress fails to reach
a deficit-reduction agreement.
The top Republicans on the House and Senate
Armed Services Committees have drafted similar bills
that would seek reductions in the size of the federal
work force, through attrition over the next 10 years, to
put off the cuts until at least 2014. Doing so would buy
lawmakers another year to negotiate a long-term deal
to cut the deficit by $1.2 trillion.
Republicans argue that the additional cuts at the
Pentagon — which would total nearly $500 billion —
are simply too risky.
“We still live in a very dangerous world and everyone agrees that sequestration — this kind of sequestration — cannot take place,” Senate Armed Services
ranking member John McCain, R-Ariz., said at a Feb. 3
press conference unveiling his proposed legislation.
McCain stressed that the Pentagon, which sent its
2013 budget request to Capitol Hill on Feb. 13, does not
have adequate time to plan for the cuts, which would
take affect just three months into the next fiscal year and
dramatically impact the current spending blueprint.
Rep. Howard P. “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the
House Armed Services Committee, has drafted one of two
Republican proposals aimed at delaying implementation of defense budget cuts prompted by sequestration in 2013. Here,
he addresses service chiefs from the Army, Navy, Air Force
and Marine Corps during a hearing on Capitol Hill Nov. 2.
“We have rushed to this decision
because the Pentagon must begin
planning now for what they’re
going to do next year,” McCain said.
“So, if these cuts are enacted, they
would have to plan on that at a very
Specifically, McCain’s legislation
— which he drafted with several
other GOP lawmakers, including
fellow Arizonan Jon Kyl, the No. 2
Republican in the Senate — would
save $109 billion (or roughly one
year of defense and non-defense
sequestration cuts) by extending
the federal pay freeze through the
middle of 2014 and reducing the
government work force by 5 percent
over the next decade by replacing
only two of every three retirees.