This week, the House of Representatives passed H.R. 5872, the Sequestration Transparency Act. The legislation calls for the president to detail his plans for implementing the $1.2 trillion across-the-board defense and discretionary spending cuts required by the Budget Control Act passed last year, and to send the detailed report to Congress within 30 days of enactment. Congressman Westmoreland strongly opposed the Budget Control Act last year, specifically because these across-the-board spending cuts to the Defense Department were a possibility.
"One of the reasons I did not vote for the Budget Control Act was because it set up a situation where we could see damaging cuts to our national defense," stated Westmoreland. "Well guess what? The worst has happened and now dramatic cuts to our national defense are looming. This isn't an issue that Congress and the White House can put off to the last minute like we see happen so often in Washington. The House passed the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act back in May outlining our plan for dealing with these impending cuts with bipartisan support, but the president immediately threatened to veto it. So if he doesn't like our plan, we need to see what his plan is. And that's all this bill does -- ask the president to release his plan."
Under the Budget Control Act, a 10 percent reduction in defense and an 8 percent reduction of some domestic programs will automatically occur on January 2, 2013. With these cuts less than six months away, the president has given no indication of exactly how they will be carried out causing uncertainty and confusion at the Defense Department. After accounting for 18 percent in debt service savings, the required reductions to spending amount to roughly $984 billion to be distributed evenly over 9 years, or $109.3 billion per year. These spending cuts would be applied with half of the cuts coming from defense spending and the other half coming from non-defense categories.
"This is not a controversial or partisan bill -- as you can see by the wide margin of bipartisan support it received," stated Westmoreland. "All we are asking is the president to provide a plan as to how he will implement the cuts required under the Budget Control Act. The livelihood and jobs of many of our soldiers, defense contractors, and businesses are directly affected by these across-the-board cuts that will begin in less than six months. The American people and the men and women who serve this country in our armed forces need to know what to expect on January 2nd. House Republicans gave the president our plan with the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act. Now it's his turn to show his."
The House passed the bill with huge bipartisan support by a vote of 414-2. Congressman Westmoreland was a cosponsor of the legislation. With such large bipartisan support in the House, it should pass quickly in the Senate. However, it is unclear whether Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) will allow the bill to be brought to the floor for a vote.