The PJ Tatler

GOP Senators Battle Defense Cuts in Swing States

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) are embarking on a multi-state tour today in an attempt to highlight just how devastating an additional $500 billion in cuts to defense would be if Congress and President Obama don’t act to stop the sequester.

McCain said on CNN this morning that more than a million jobs would be lost if the cuts go through at the beginning of 2013.

“We’ve already cut $460 billion from the defense budget,” the senator said. “And I would point out that if we sat down together, we could look at loophole closing and spending cuts and look at freezes. …So making sure that our nation is secure from a defense national security standpoint is the first priority.”

“We could address both the dense and nondefense savings from sequestration by living within our means for one month in this government,” Ayotte said. “It’s about one month of borrowing. So we can find those savings across the government and do this in a more responsibility way and still address the deficit reduction.”

In addition to stops in North Carolina and New Hampshire, the senators will be hosting town halls in Florida, which could see 41,000 jobs lost through the sequester, and Virginia, which could lose 136,000 defense jobs.

“They have to issue layoff notices before the election so members of Congress need to come together on this,” Ayotte said.

Democrats on the Hill have grumbled that the tour is like a campaign trip for Mitt Romney, trying to cast blame on Obama for the defense cuts.

“I welcome Senators McCain, Graham and Ayotte to Hampton Roads,” said Rep. Bobby Scott (D-Va.). “Our region is very proud of its military and shipbuilding heritage. My Senate colleagues are correct in their assessment that sequestration will be harmful to our national defense and especially our local economy, but I believe they have yet to answer an important question, namely what is the most appropriate proposal to fix this problem?”