Congressman Jim Gerlach (PA-6th District) helped the U.S. House of Representatives pass legislation on Wednesday that would require greater transparency and accountability from the White House regarding possible cuts in military spending.
H.R. 5872, the proposed Sequestration Transparency Act, passed the House by an overwhelming bipartisan vote of 414-2.
The measure would require the President to report to Congress within 30 days exactly how the Administration would implement defense spending reductions of $55 billion per year scheduled to take effect in January if Congress and the President do not act. Those reductions are in addition to the nearly $50 billion per year cuts to defense spending already in place.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told a U.S. Senate Appropriations subcommittee last month that doubling the defense cuts as part of a process known as sequestration would "inflict severe damage on our national defense."
Congressman Gerlach issued this statement following Wednesday's House vote:
"I am extremely concerned that indiscriminately slashing funds used to train and provide our military with the very best weaponry and equipment they need to keep our country safe would have catastrophic consequences. It is my hope that we will work together to find a responsible and financially sound solution for avoiding these steep reductions. I voted for this legislation today because the President needs to level with our troops, their families and the American public about what cuts he would carry out and how they would affect our military readiness. Keep in mind that we've reached this precipice because of an astonishing lack of leadership by the President and Senate Democrat Leader Harry Reid. It has been more than three years since the U.S. Senate has adopted a comprehensive budget. Meanwhile, the House has voted on and passed budget proposals - all of which attack waste without weakening our country's defense. It's time for the President to come to the table and lay out a plan in a transparent and honest manner."
In addition to affecting military readiness, the sequestration cuts would threaten as many as 1 million jobs throughout the country.
During a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Wednesday, leaders from several companies that build defense systems and weaponry and equip our troops testified that the lack of guidance on how these cuts would be carried out has created a lot of uncertainty.
"With just 167 days remaining until it is triggered, we have little insight as to how sequestration will be implemented no insight into which programs will be curtailed, which sites will be closed, which technologies will be discontinued, or which contracts will be reformed," said Robert Stevens, Chief Executive of Lockheed Martin. "The impact on industry would be devastating, with a significant disruption to ongoing programs and initiatives, leading to facility closures and personnel reductions that would significantly disrupt advanced manufacturing operations, erode engineering expertise, and accelerate the loss of skills and knowledge."