Today, Congressman John Boehner (R-West Chester) released the following column discussing the House-passed Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act:
"Because of Washington's failure last year to sufficiently reduce the deficit, current federal law requires that hundreds of billions of dollars in indiscriminate cuts be made to the national defense budget by January 2, 2013. On May 10, our majority in the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation that will stop these harmful cuts and replace them with common-sense cuts and reforms from elsewhere in the federal budget. I believe this is one of the most important bills we will pass this year in the House.
"America's war fighters are asked to make many sacrifices in defense of liberty and freedom on a daily basis. This is something we are well aware of in Ohio, where facilities like Wright-Patterson Air Force Base play a vital role in protecting our country. Yet the branches of our armed services have so far been called upon to accept disproportionally high levels of cuts compared to the rest of the federal government. We should not punish our troops for Washington's failures.
"H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act, combines the work of six committees (Agriculture, Energy & Commerce, Financial Services, Judiciary, Oversight & Government Reform, and Ways & Means) to address scheduled sequestration cuts aimed at the Department of Defense. The committees produced deficit reduction plans in their respective areas pursuant to the reconciliation instructions of the House-approved budget. In addition to replacing the Department of Defense sequestration cuts, the bill will produce savings of $243 billion over ten years.
"By passing the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act, the House has taken action to ensure those who defend America have the resources they need to fight and defeat the many clear and emerging threats that exist in the world today. The bill replaces automatic defense cuts -- cuts the Obama administration accurately said were "devastating' to our military -- with sensible spending cuts and reforms that reduce the deficit. Instead of forcing troops to pay for Washington's failures, we're eliminating bailouts, slush funds, and stopping fraud.
"In passing H.R. 5652, my colleagues and I were joined by a broad coalition of veterans organizations who believe it is critical that we not jeopardize support for our troops and their families, particularly at a time when our economy and wages are stagnant. They also know it is critical for those who take an oath to defend America are given every advantage possible and every tool available to accomplish that sacred mission.
"'This is a measure that echoes The American Legion's firm belief that a strong and properly funded military is vital to our nation's well being,' said American Legion National Commander Fang A. Wong in a statement following the House vote on H.R. 5652. 'It is heartening to know that the men and women of the House, by virtue of their action, are truly concerned about the negative, possibly disastrous, effects that massive, automatic cuts in our nation's defense funding would have on our security.'
"'If history teaches us anything, it is that a nation unprepared for emerging threats, such as we face today, will ultimately pay a higher price in blood and treasure,' Commander Wong continued. 'House members, by and large, appear to have heeded this lesson. The act is excellent in principle and a good and necessary argument in the vital debate over our military's future.'
"What happens next is the key question. To date, President Obama -- the Commander-in-Chief of our armed forces -- has offered no plan of his own to stop these automatic cuts from hollowing out our defenses, despite the urgent warnings of his own Defense Secretary, Leon Panetta. And the Democrats running the U.S. Senate, incredibly, have signaled they are comfortable allowing the cuts to take effect. They'd evidently prefer to cut funding for our troops and send a signal of weakness to the world than achieve the needed savings by cracking down on government bailouts, slush funds and fraud.
"I don't believe we can allow that to happen. The President of the United States is chosen by the people to lead. And lead he must. The president should call on his Democratic friends in the U.S. Senate to pass the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act and send it to his desk so that it can be signed into law. The men and women of our military deserve nothing less than immediate action on this bill."
Boehner represents Ohio's 8th District, which includes all of Darke, Miami, and Preble counties, most of Butler and Mercer counties, and the northeastern corner of Montgomery County. He was first elected to Congress in 1990.