Reminding her colleagues of their previous votes on automatic spending cuts, U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today used a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing to urge Congress to work toward a balanced compromise plan to avoid the worst consequences of looming automatic defense cuts agreed to by Republicans and Democrats in Congress last year.
"When we voted for this-and there were 28 Republican Senators who voted for this-we all knew that there would come a day of reckoning, that we would have to sit down and compromise," said McCaskill, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. "And I certainly hope the dramatic testimony today will help get us to that place. We will not avoid the consequences of these cuts for our military if we just draw lines in the sand ... so sign me up for the compromise, for painful cuts, and some revenue."
McCaskill also used the hearing to remind her colleagues that the leading Republicans in both the Senate and U.S. House voted to pass the Budget Control Act-the legislation which included the threat of automatic spending cuts in order to force a compromise plan to address the national debt.
Today's hearing included the top officials of the U.S. Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, and National Guard, as well as General Martin E. Dempsey, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.
On March 1, if no action is taken by Congress, the Pentagon must begin cutting $42.5 billion from its budget-a move that today's panel said would have a harmful effect on military readiness and operations. McCaskill is working with other Senators in the hope of developing a plan that would replace the automatic cuts-or, sequester-with targeted budget cuts and ending unnecessary tax breaks for large corporations.
McCaskill has consistently called for a balanced, bipartisan, compromise plan to replace the automatic cuts, and has also been a leader in requiring the Pentagon to spend taxpayer dollars more wisely.
In 2011, McCaskill chaired an Armed Services Committee hearing aimed at saving taxpayer dollars by reviewing the Pentagon's financial management practices and its progress in achieving a full audit of U.S. Department of Defense (DOD) finances.