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Capitol Hill Scrambles To Save Military Spending After Debt Deal

Common Dreams staff

House Speaker John Boehner with House Majority Leader Eric Cantor in the foreground. (Newscom/UPI)

Republican leaders in Congress yesterday moved to avert potential cuts in the military budget that were part of a bipartisan budget agreement made last year.

The Hill reports today:

A group of Republican senators introduced legislation Thursday that would wipe out automatic defense cuts by reducing the federal workforce by 5 percent and extending a freeze on federal pay through June 2014.

The GOP senators, led by Arizona’s Jon Kyl and John McCain, wish to prevent $500 billion in automatic defense cuts set to begin in January 2013.

Their bill would eliminate the first year of the cuts by hiring back two workers for every three who leave. It would save $127 billion in all, with $110 billion covering automatic cuts to defense and non-defense spending scheduled for 2013 under last summer’s deal to raise the debt ceiling.

Republicans have zeroed in on the federal workforce as a way to reduce deficits. On Wednesday, the House approved extending a federal pay freeze in a bipartisan vote. Seventy-three Democrats voted with the GOP.

At Talking Points Memo, Brian Buetlers writes this morning:

Republican leaders in Congress have all but reneged on a key agreement they reached with the White House last summer rather than reconsider their unwavering stance against new tax revenue.

Relations between the Obama administration and the congressional GOP were already just about as bad as can be. But even so, this sets a precedent future Congresses and White Houses will remember when partisan mismatches force them to strike deals and govern.

“I’ve got concerns about the sequester,” House Speaker John Boehner told reporters Thursday. “I’ve made that pretty clear. And replacing the sequester certainly has value. The defense portion of the sequester, in my view, would clearly hollow our military. The Secretary of Defense has said that, members of Congress have said it. But the question I would pose is, where’s the White House? Where’s the leadership that should be there to ensure that this sequester does not go into effect.”

“Sequester” is budget-speak for across-the-board cuts. But the cuts he’s talking about were part of a deal he recently claimed he’d honor.


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