Last night, the House of Representatives rejected a bipartisan amendment, which would have cut a $17 billion defense spending increase in half.
The bipartisan amendment offered by Congresswoman Gwen Moore (D-WI) and Representatives Barney Frank (D-MA), John Campbell (R-CA), Rush Holt (D-NJ), Walter Jones (R-NC) and Ron Paul (R-TX) would have saved $8.5 billion. It specifically protected military personnel and would have prohibited reductions in military pay, health, and emergency war costs.
Congresswoman Moore said, "Defense spending accounts for as much as Medicare and Medicaid combined. With many of my colleagues slashing those programs, we must also take a strong look at cutting defense spending. I'm disappointed that this amendment failed and that we now may be forced to make deeper and more painful cuts elsewhere."
Congressman Frank, the amendment's lead sponsor said, "While many of us believe that no increase at all is justified at a time of fiscal austerity, my colleagues and I have put forward a more moderate amount which only cuts in half the increase proposed. We believe that it is essential that the House of Representatives show that it is prepared to put restraints on military spending and this amendment was drafted to maximize our chances of having that made clear."
The same representatives have also written a letter to President Obama and congressional leaders to demand cuts to the defense budget be part of meaningful deficit reduction. The Defense Department budget will make up almost 60 percent of discretionary spending that Congress will approve this year, and it is the only area with a funding increase under the Republican budget plan.
Under their amendment, which was defeated by a vote of 244 to 181, next year's non-war budget for the Defense Department would have been reduced to about $522 billion. The House approved the overall bill maintaining the $17 billion increase today. The legislation now heads to the Senate for consideration.