Congressman J. Randy Forbes (VA-04), Chairman of the House Armed Services Seapower and Projection Forces Subcommittee, announced today that he has introduced H.R.773, a bill to remove the Department of Defense from sequestration and reduce the total size of the sequester by that amount.
"Sequestration cuts eclipse any other national security threat facing our nation," said Forbes. "Lawmakers in Washington have crossed a red line in our constitutional duty -- outlined in the first sentence of the U.S. Constitution -- to provide for the common defense. I voted against sequestration and I've warned about these cuts for 18 months. This bill represents an opportunity for lawmakers to blunt sequestration's debilitating impact on national defense."
With just days before the sequester takes place, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Gen. Martin Dempsey has testified that the U.S. military "can't give another dollar" in defense cuts. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has said sequestration "guarantees that we hollow out the military."
Since 2009, the Department of Defense has taken roughly $800 billion in spending reductions. Sequestration would cut nearly $500 billion more in defense spending. National defense accounts for approximately 20% of federal spending, yet will constitute roughly 50% of the total spending cuts under sequestration. These cuts would represent the most dramatic cuts facing the Department of Defense in three and a half decades -- far surpassing the cuts of the 1990s which left our nation unprepared for the 9/11 terrorist attacks.
"While I believe that the whole of sequestration's arbitrary cuts can and should be avoided, America's lawmakers must take direct and immediate action to ensure that the U.S. military has the capabilities necessary to protect and defend the United States," Forbes said. "The security of our nation and our men and women in uniform must not continue to bear the brunt of the two-plus-year failure of Congress and the President to agree on the appropriate way to reduce the federal debt and deficit."
Forbes has been one of our nation's earliest and most forceful voices advocating for a stop to sequestration. He voted against the bill that set up sequestration, launched a nationwide series of bipartisan listening sessions to raise awareness on sequestration, has coordinated a bipartisan Virginia delegation letter speaking out on the impacts of sequestration, and has voted twice to support legislation that would replace sequestration cuts with alternative spending reductions. He has launched a website with a full timeline of his efforts to stop sequestration and detailed information on the solutions he supports to avert the sequester.
The Commonwealth of Virginia will feel the strongest blow of sequestration's arbitrary cuts. Ten percent of the nationwide job losses will come from the Commonwealth with over 200,000 individuals at risk of losing their jobs. Civilian furloughs threaten to leave workers with up to 20% pay cuts over six months.
Even prior to sequestration, America's military forces are on the ragged edge. The U.S. Navy is the smallest it has been since 1916 with only 287 ships, and with sequestration we will have only 220-230 ships in 10 years. Today, the Navy cannot meet our operational combatant commanders' force requirements; in FY13, the Navy satisfied only 51% of COCOM demands, compared to 90% in 2007. Even without sequestration, in the next decade the Navy will face significant shortfalls in surface combatants, submarines, and amphibious ships.
The Air Force is the smallest it has been since its inception in 1947, with a rapidly aging fleet of tactical aircraft and bombers. 70% of all combat aircraft will be 'non combat capable' by July of this year. The average age of Air Force aircraft is 22 years, with some aircraft approaching 50 years of service life.
The Marine Corps will see a 20,000 person end-strength reduction even while the Corps is helping to resource the "pivot" to Asia. 60% of the Marine Corps equipment currently requires reconstitution after a decade of combat.
The Army will see significant impairments to readiness, with almost 80% of Brigade Combat Teams (BCTs) incurring months-long training delays and thousands of combat vehicles unable to undertake needed maintenance.
Congressman Forbes has been serving on the House Armed Service Committee since 2001.