Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon (R-CA) introduced a bill in December that would freeze federal hiring in order to delay military spending cuts required by sequestration. Last month, Arizona GOP Sens. John McCain and Jon Kyl introduced a similar bill that would scale back the federal work force and freeze federal worker pay to prevent further military spending cuts. Neither bill contained any plans to raise revenue for the federal government.
The National Journal reports that House Republicans will incorporate these ideas into their version of the budget, taking military spending cuts off the table:
House Republicans are planning to pull the defense-spending cuts mandated by sequestration off the table in their version of the budget expected to be released next week, according to two Hill aides. [...]
Republican defense leaders have protested that the military was taking the brunt of spending cuts. But by firewalling defense from further cuts, House Republicans would need to pay for those expected cuts another way. At a House Budget Committee hearing, Chairman Paul Ryan, R-Wis., told Panetta he felt entitlement spending should be on the table.
“With regards to the Budget Control Act, an across-the-board $97 billion discretionary spending cut will be imposed on January 2, 2013, including devastating cuts to our national security,” Ryan said in statement provided to National Journal. “House Republicans are continuing their efforts to reprioritize the savings called for under the Budget Control Act, because our troops and military families shouldn’t pay the price for Washington’s failure to take action.”
The National Journal said Republicans “declined to provide further details” of their budget, but it presumably won’t include raising taxes.
Rep. Adam Smith (D-WA) earlier this month floated a decent idea for those wanting to preserve military spending: let the Bush tax cuts expire. “The vote to extend the Bush tax cuts in their entirety would, in essence, be the vote to lock in sequestration,” Smith said.
But even if lawmakers can’t find offsets for sequestration — and despite the hyperbolic warnings from Republicans, the defense industry and even the current Secretary of Defense — the Pentagon can, as CAP’s Lawrence Korb recently noted in the New York Times, “easily absorb” the sequestration’s security spending cuts.
McCain, Ryan and McKeon all voted for the Budget Control Act (BCA), which was, thus, a vote for sequestration. McKeon this week tried to explain away the contradiction of now trying to repeal part of a bill he voted for: “I held my nose and voted for the BCA, with the hopes that we could fix the serious problems with the bill shortly after.”