U.S. Senators John McCain (R-AZ), Jon Kyl (R-AZ), Lindsey Graham (R-SC), Kelly Ayotte (R-NH) and Marco Rubio (R-FL) today announced an effort to prevent across-the-board cuts to defense spending resulting from the failure of the Joint Select Congressional Committee on Deficit Reduction to reach an agreement.
"Defense funding should be driven by our national security needs, not by arbitrary fiscal arithmetic," the senators said in a joint statement. "Funding levels should be based on U.S. security objectives, which are defined by an assessment of our current and future threats and risks. We cannot responsibly allow across-the-board, draconian defense cuts to go forward at the expense of our national security. That is why we will work to identify other responsible offsets that will reduce the nation's deficit by means that do not endanger the security of the United States."
Under the Budget Control Act of 2011, a temporary congressional panel was formed to identify $1.2 trillion in federal spending reductions. But because of Democratic insistence to increase taxes on the nation's job creators, the panel was unable to reach an agreement. That will result in automatic spending cuts of $1.2 trillion starting in 2013, split evenly between defense and domestic spending. This amount is in addition to the more than $450 billion the Defense Department already is required to cut over the next ten years.
Obama Administration Defense Secretary Leon Panetta recently likened the automatic defense cuts to "shooting ourselves in the head." He also went on to state that "[t]he reality is that [defense sequestration] will be devastating to the defense budget. It will hollow out the force. It will weaken our national defense. It will undermine our ability to maintain our alliances throughout the world. And, most importantly, it will break faith with troops and their families."
"There are hundreds of billions in spending cuts that the joint select committee, along with the group led by Vice President Joe Biden, identified that could be used to responsibly reduce spending and avoid a defense sequester," the senators continued. "Identifying $1.2 trillion in cuts over ten years across the entire federal budget shouldn't be a difficult task. We do not intend to prevent the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction called for by the Budget Control Act from being achieved; but we do intend to do it in a more responsible way."