“Today’s report states that ‘sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions,’ and that ‘Congress can and should take action to avoid it by passing a comprehensive and balanced deficit reduction package,’” Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) said Friday. “I completely agree, as do the vast majority of members of Congress, which is why I am confident sequestration will not occur.”
But Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) accused the commander in chief of being AWOL in providing the leadership needed to avoid sequestration.
“Although the sequestration report lacks detail, it makes glaringly clear that those programs most closely related to combat readiness of the force will be severely cut. And while the report claims that the president has offered ‘balanced and comprehensive deficit reduction’ solutions, his plan was so unserious that it was rejected by every single member of Congres,” McConnell said.
“Sadly, it took passage of the Sequester Transparency Act to force the Obama administration to tell the American people what programs will be affected by these cuts. The President’s own defense secretary has said these cuts would hollow out our Armed Forces, yet the President refuses to join Republicans who want to responsibly replace them before they go into effect,” he added.
Two Republicans in districts that would be especially hard-hit by defense cuts refused to vote for last week’s continuing resolution that acts as a stop-gap measure to fund the government for six months.
“It is simply unconscionable for Congress to pass a bill that ignores the looming cuts coming in January,” Rep. Rob Wittman (R-Va.) said. “…With two and a half weeks to go before the new fiscal year begins, Congress should remain in Washington, and have a serious discussion on solutions to fund our government responsibly, and address the looming threat of defense cuts.”
“These cuts threaten our national security while costing an estimated 200,000 jobs in Virginia. This is too important to ignore, and a time to put governing over politics.”
“Beyond this concern for our Navy and shipbuilding operations, we must hold Washington accountable for passing a real budget and all of the appropriations bills for which it is responsible,” said Rep. Scott Rigell (R-Va.). “Every American family operates on a budget; so too must our government. These short-term continuing resolutions are creating uncertainty in the private sector and hurting our country.”
On the same day as the CR, the House passed Rep. Allen West’s (R-Fla.) National Security and Job Protection Act 223-196 to repeal sequestration contingent upon the enactment of legislation to offset the cuts elsewhere.
With Libya, Egypt and Israel dominating the headlines, the sequestration report got slight mentions on just two of the Sunday news shows, even though the crises highlight the urgent need to keep America’s military strong.
On CNN’s State of the Union, Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) defended Obama for not taking the hands-on President Clinton approach of trying to offer guidance to Congress and get members in the same room to forge agreements.
“I would say that they both score very high in terms of leadership,” Pelosi said. “If you measure leadership in the number of phone calls, well, that might be a little bit of a different story because they’re different personalities.”
Without that intense drive to consensus-build, though, and with Obama’s deep desire to see tax cuts canceled for the wealthy as a condition to move forward, there’s little indication that sequestration will get the pre-election attention it needs.
“Congress still has time to prevent the cuts detailed in this report from taking effect. What is unclear is whether Congress has the will,” Coons said. “Congress must act, and it should not wait until after the election to do so.”