Congressman Steven Palazzo (R-MS), member of the House Armed Services Committee and the only noncommissioned officer concurrently serving in Congress and the National Guard, released a statement today in response to a White House report addressing pending sequestration cuts. The report, ordered by the recently-passed Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012, was requested to show the effects of the sequestration cuts scheduled to take effect in January 2013. The Administration released the report this afternoon after missing last week's deadline.
"The President has shown once again that he would rather pass the buck than work on a solution to the problem at hand. At every turn, whether we have asked him to provide input on the dangers of sequestration, pressure Senate leaders to act, support the House plan to avoid these cuts or even put forth his own plan -- the President has refused to lead on this issue. We have repeatedly asked the President to give this matter the kind of serious attention it deserves. If the President has truly felt all along that the situation is as dire as this report says, I ask, where has he been?"
Although members of the House of Representatives have passed multiple bills to deal with the looming sequestration cuts, the Sequestration Transparency Act represented the first time both Chambers of Congress addressed the issue in 2012. Lawmakers passed the bill in a bipartisan vote of 414-2 in late-July, in hopes the Administration would produce more details as to how sequestration cuts would be implemented. Today's report, which contained little new information regarding planned cuts, was released in response to the 30-day requirement that went into effect once President Obama signed the bill into law on August 7, 2012. It comes on the heels of House passage of the National Security and Jobs Protection Act earlier this week, which would require the President to submit an alternative replacement plan for the scheduled sequestration cuts. That bill passed the House by a vote of 223-196.
Palazzo, who has vocally opposed defense cuts included in the sequester plan, is an original cosponsor of H.R. 3662, The Down Payment to Protect National Security Act. This House Armed Services Committee proposal was introduced in December 2011 as a solution for the initial round of defense cuts scheduled to take place on January 2, 2013. Senate Republicans have also introduced a companion bill, S. 2065. In addition, the House-passed Budget Resolution initiated a "reconciliation" process, whereby certain House committees would propose changes to current spending programs in order to offset the costs of replacing the automatically scheduled sequestration cuts.
Without a solution, sequestration would cut an additional $55 billion per year in defense spending from the levels established in the Budget Control Act. That would mean an additional $492 billion in cuts on top of the $487 billion that are already being implemented. In total, nearly $1 trillion could be cut from defense budgets over the next ten years.