President Barack Obama was "basically AWOL" in securing the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, and Rep. Buck McKeon said budgetary cuts to the military harmed preparedness when force was needed.
"The commander in chief was basically AWOL in this situation," the California Republican told MSNBC's "Morning Joe," using a military reference about a service member who leaves their post without permission.
"That is what I gained out of the Benghazi report, is that we expected the military to be there 7/24, no matter how we cut back on their resources and their abilities," he added.
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Four Americans died in Benghazi, Libya, in 2012 on the anniversary of Sept. 11. During the siege, the administration maintained support forces could not have reached the compound in time to provide aid.
McKeon, who has served more than two decades in the House, announced in January he would not seek reelection after this term. In the meantime, he said he is focused on "cuts to the defense to our national security."
The bipartisan budget Congress passed in December included cuts to veterans pension benefits. Lawmakers are debating a bill to reinstate the cuts by scaling back the Pentagon's Overseas Contingency Operations funds.
While the country has "serious financial problems," McKeon said Congress was "trying to fix them all in a year or two on the backs of our military."
"The cuts that we have taken out of defense in the last couple of years going forward now amount to $1 trillion. We've never had cuts so deep, so steep," he said.
Cuts in discretionary spending would not balance the budget and Congress at some point will have to address the government's mandatory spending programs, he said.
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