Rep. Mick Mulvaney tells Newsmax he has co-sponsored a bill that slashes what he asserts is a "slush fund" the government uses to "hide money."
The South Carolina Republican also tells Newsmax that the sequester proves that the "world is not going to end" if the federal government cuts spending.
Mulvaney was elected in 2010 and is a member of the Tea Party caucus.
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His bill targeted $5 billion that the Appropriations Committee added to the Pentagon's request for funds in fiscal 2014. On July 24, the House passed, with bipartisan support, a compromise to trim $3.5 billion.
In an exclusive interview with Newsmax TV on Tuesday, Rep. Mulvaney explains: "What we did was take away the slush fund that the Appropriations Committee had created. The Pentagon, the Defense Department, had asked for $80 billion for running what they called the Overseas Contingency Account. This is a fancy way of saying a war budget.
"So Defense wanted to ask for $80 billion. By the time it made the floor, the number was $85 billion. This is not money that the Defense Department had asked for, it was money that the Appropriations Committee put in.
"Conservatives have known for years that the war budget has been a great place to hide money. God bless him, but George Bush was great at it. Why would you hide money there? Because everybody's afraid to go and take it. If you start drawing criticism to the war budget, you run the risk of being accused of being soft on the war, not supporting the troops, etc.
"But enough of us Republicans and Democrats had just gotten sick of that and said we're not going to stand for this anymore."
Some members of both parties opposed Mulvaney's bill because they hoped that some of the $5 billion might be spent in their district, while others "are still worried about being perceived as being weak on defense," Mulvaney says.
"Both Democrats and Republicans alike didn't like the fact that this money was being spent beyond what the Defense Department had asked for. It cuts across party lines and it is the type of thing that doesn't fall neatly into that red versus blue discussion.
"Keep in mind [the bill targeted] the war budget, not the larger defense budget. Those are two separate things. Folks didn't realize that they were budgeted for separately. You have the defense budget, this runs the ordinary defense of the nation, and you have the war budget, which funds the operations mostly in Afghanistan. So this was a centralized discussion on that very small sliver of the overall spending of the government.
"I can tell you there's a growing group of folks in both parties who are concerned about spending levels.
"There is a group of about 40 Republicans and 40 Democrats who have gotten together and tried and find places to have meaningful reforms in both in discretionary and mandatory spending and to fix Medicare, Medicaid, and Social Security like we need to."
Asked if the sequester has so far proven to be good or bad, Mulvaney responds: "It's proven to us one thing, which is that the world is not going to end if the government gets a little bit less money.
"The president was out on the campaign trail talking about how the Republicans forced him to do this — it was his idea, by the way — and how it was going to be terrible and planes would fall out of the sky. And it didn't happen. It didn't happen because it was pennies on the dollar, quite literally pennies on the dollar.
"So in the long run, we'll look back on the sequester, hopefully, as that first step when people realized maybe the world won't end if the federal government doesn't get all the money that it wants."
Mulvaney also tells Newsmax that American military and economic aid to Egypt "needs to be debated."
He adds: "I recognize the fact that we have treaty obligations with Israel that are actually tied in some fashion to the amount of money we give Egypt. But what we're learning here is that maybe it's not always just good guys versus bad guys and that maybe, in some fights, everybody's a bad guy, and that if everybody's a bad guy, maybe it's better for us to stay out of it.
"If a bunch of people in another part of the world with a dramatically different culture and religion and background want to fight each other, let them fight each other. That needs to be an option.
"Whether or not that's the option we pursue in Egypt or Syria depends on the facts as we see them going forward."
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