Republicans are hurriedly searching for ways to avoid any cuts to the defense budget after the super-committee’s failure to propose overall cuts locked in automatic across the board cuts to defense in 2013.
The approximately $1.2 trillion in automatic budget cuts – called sequestration – that lawmakers mandated as part of a deal to raise the debt ceiling would translate to about $450 billion in cuts to the Pentagon over ten years. This amounts to a slight decrease in the rate of growth in defense budgets over that time.
But Republicans have been adamant about scuttling those mandates, with Buck McKeon (R-CA), the Republican chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, vowing to introduce legislation to kill the military cuts, along with Republican Senators John McCain and Lindsey Graham working on a bill to avoid at least some of them.
President Obama has vowed to veto any attempts to undo the sequestration mandate. But Congress is stuck, essentially refusing to cut the military for the sake of contractors’ heavy pockets and refusing to cut domestic programs for the sake of votes.
Meanwhile, the Senate is expected to finalize a vote on the $662 billion defense bill that would authorize funds for military personnel, weapons systems, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and national security programs in the Energy Department. The appropriations would be tens of billions of dollars less than those of the current fiscal year, and tens of billions less than what President Obama requested.