Defense Cuts Must Be Addressed
This week, the House will pass legislation to fund our military operations for fiscal year 2013. In total, the bill provides $519.2 billion in base funding and $88.5 billion for Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) for Defense activities related to the Global War on Terror. This funding is critical to ensuring our troops around the globe remain the best-equipped fighting force in the world.
As we start 2013, however, our national defense is facing large budget cuts due to a process known as sequestration. Adequately funding our military is the most important thing we must do to ensure our national security, and since these cuts have the potential to gut our nation’s defense, it’s my highest priority to find other savings to reduce our nation’s deficit and protect our military. Unfortunately, there are some in Congress that refuse to acknowledge the potential impact of these cuts.
Last year, to address our nation’s out-of-control debt, Congress passed the Budget Control Act (BCA), which cut over $2 trillion of spending over 10 years. The BCA created a Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, also referred to as the “Super Committee,” to recommend $1.2 trillion of the savings. To ensure action to reduce the deficit, the BCA stated that if the Committee failed to find and enforce these cuts, an automatic across-the-board spending cut – known as sequestration – would take place starting in January 2013.
Since the so-called “Super Committee” failed to come to an agreement, an automatic $98 billion cut will take effect in January. For defense spending, this means over $50 billion will be cut on top of the nearly $50 billion of cuts that have already been implemented. These cuts would undoubtedly lead to disastrous consequences for our soldiers, veterans, national security and the economy. Even Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has spoken out in opposition to these cuts several times, stating they will be “devastating” to our military.
House Republicans recognized the threat to our nation’s military, and have acted in a responsible manner to replace the automatic, arbitrary sequestration cuts with targeted cuts that spare the men and women fighting to defend our freedom. In our budget, the Path to Prosperity, we reprioritized sequester savings to ensure our troops don’t foot the bill for Washington’s inability to reach a spending reduction agreement. We also passed specific legislation – the Sequester Replacement Act – which replaces the cuts to our nation’s defense with cuts that target waste, fraud and abuse in our country’s mandatory spending programs – the programs that make up nearly two-thirds of our nation’s spending.
Also this week, we are bringing forward legislation – the Sequestration Transparency Act – that would direct the Administration to detail exactly how the cuts will impact the Department of Defense (DoD). With a subject as critical as the defense and safety of our great nation, we absolutely must be well informed and make choices that leave our country safe.
Last week, the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office (CBO) released a report analyzing the DoD yearly Future Years Defense Program plan. The CBO’s report stated that, for 2013, the cost of DoD’s plans is $14 billion higher than the funding available before sequestration, and $66 billion higher than the funding that would be available after sequestration. Clearly, the military has needs greater than the resources currently budgeted for it.
While balancing the budget remains of utmost importance, we must not do so on the back of our military. It is our responsibility to ensure the DoD has the resources needed to fill the budget shortfalls and keep our country safe. Please rest assured that I will continue to work with my colleagues in the House and Senate to ensure these devastating cuts do not take effect.