Rep. Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, today introduced H.R. 3662, the Down Payment To Protect National Security Act, an effort to pay for the first year of sequestration cuts without doing serious harm to America's military. The bill holds to the spirit of the Budget Control Act (BCA) and leaves total sequestration caps in place. The bill is co-sponsored by leading Republican members of the defense committees.
McKeon will discuss the legislation in a press conference scheduled for 2:00 tomorrow in HVC Studio A in the Capitol Visitor Center.
Last month's failure of the supercommitte to find $1.2 trillion dollars in savings over ten years triggered equivalent cuts in discretionary spending.America's military funding will be cut by $500 billion, compounded on the $465 billion already cut this year.
In addressing the perilous cuts facing the military, McKeon said, "America's military commanders have warned us that these cuts will cripple our ability to defend the nation. After cutting almost $500 billion from defense, we are clearing a lot of waste, fat, and even muscle out of the military. Going into sequestration cuts us to the bone. It forces us to break faith with the men and women who have been at war for a decade now. We can and should have a national conversation about our role in the world and how our military is configured. That conversation should comebefore we cut the budget, not after."
The Down Payment To Protect National Security Act imposes a reduction of federal workforce by 10% through attrition and applies the savings to pay for one year of sequestration, for defense and non-defense categories. A 10% reduction will be achieved over 10 years by only hiring one federal bureaucrat for every three who retire.
Unlike other sectors of the government, the Department of Defense must plan for personnel costs, weapons systems, and other operational needs years before they are needed. Decisions that will impact the FY 13 budget are being made now. Many of those decisions, like canceling procurement projects, separating troops, and closing facilities, are irrevocable.
"The coming political year is likely to be marked with gamesmanship and brinksmanship. My bill gives Congress a shot at statesmanship. Over half of the deficit reduction efforts to date have come out of the military," McKeon said. "The troops simply don't have any more to give. It is time we address our debt crisis sensibly, by literally shrinking the size of government. At the same time, we will meet our commitment to saving $1.2 trillion over ten years. That should be enough to persuade the Commander in Chief to put politics aside and protect our troops."