House Sets Vote to Demand Accountability from Obama Administration on “Devastating” Defense Cuts
This week, the House will vote on the Sequestration Transparency Act (H.R. 5872), legislation introduced by House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (R-TX) that requires transparency from the Obama administration regarding its plan for implementing the arbitrary, across-the-board defense cuts mandated under the Budget Control Act and slated for January 1st of next year. As Rep. Hensarling and Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-WI) explain:
“If current law is not changed, across-the-board spending cuts will be enforced under the Budget Control Act, resulting in a 10% cut to the Department of Defense and an 8% cut to non-defense discretionary spending—known as sequestration. Unfortunately, despite repeated requests from both the House and Senate, the administration has persistently refused to provide basic details about the scope, severity, and extent of the arbitrary cuts required by the sequester.”
Under the legislation, the president must submit a report to Congress within 30 days detailing how both the discretionary and defense cuts mandated by the Budget Control Act will be implemented and how specific activities and programs will be affected – information Congress has repeatedly sought but not yet received from the administration.
In testimony before the House Budget Committee, President Obama’s Defense Secretary warned that allowing the sequester to take effect, as it will under current law, will “hollow out the force and inflict severe damage to our national defense.” A coalition representing more than 5.5 million American troops and veterans warns that the defense cuts will “force reductions of more than 200,000” troops while threatening the “compensation, health care, and other support commitments” made “to generations of servicemembers, families, and survivors.” And House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-CA) says the cuts would leave the U.S. with its “smallest ground force since before World War II, its smallest Navy since before World War I and its smallest Air Force in the history of the service.”
House Republicans have passed a plan to replace the arbitrary defense cuts with a more responsible approach that implements common-sense reforms and spending reductions. The House-passed plan not only protects our nation’s defense, but also goes beyond the Budget Control Act to achieve an additional $242.8 billion in savings, according to the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office. Senate Democrats have offered no plan to replace the “devastating” defense cuts, and Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) says they are “not going to back off” the looming cuts – regardless of the impact on our defense capabilities and national security.
“The branches of our armed services have so far been called upon to accept disproportionally high levels of cuts compared to the rest of the federal government,” Speaker Boehner says, and “we should not punish our troops for Washington’s failures.” While Republicans’ goal remains to replace the arbitrary defense cuts with a better approach that will not “hollow out” our forces, as Chairman Ryan has said “we cannot turn a blind eye to these across-the-board reductions and how they will be implemented.” The Sequestration Transparency Act will hold the Obama administration accountable for the impact of its failure to put forth a plan to avert the disastrous cuts, and will paint a clear picture of what Senate Democrats’ refusal to act will mean for our troops and their families.
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