If Washington does not reverse the spending cuts put in place under President Barack Obama, Republicans will share responsibility for the national security failures that will result from a lack of adequate funding, said Arizona GOP Sen. John McCain and Texas GOP Rep. Mac Thornberry.
In an opinion piece for The Wall Street Journal
, the chairmen of the Senate and House Armed Services Committees argue that providing national defense is the highest constitutional responsibility of the federal government.
They said that it is no coincidence that while global threats have grown, defense spending has been hampered by caps put in place by the 2011 Budget Control Act and sequestration, cutting defense by nearly $1 trillion over 10 years.
"These cuts are seriously undermining the capabilities, readiness, morale and modernization of the armed forces. The senior military leaders of the Army, Navy, Air Force and Marine Corps have all testified to our committees that, with defense spending at sequestration levels, they cannot execute the National Military Strategy," McCain and Thornberry wrote.
"These military leaders warned in January that sequestration is putting American lives at risk. This is a crisis of Washington's own making," the lawmakers said.
They said that arguments suggesting that cuts are necessary because they contribute to reducing the debt are misguided, because military spending is not to blame for out-of-control deficits and debt.
They said the true drivers of the nation's debt are entitlement programs like Social Security, Medicaid and Medicare.
"Heaping nearly $1 trillion in cuts on the U.S. military while ignoring entitlements is not conservative fiscal policy and will not solve the problems of deficits and debt," they wrote.
"We and our fellow Republicans must also think about the future of the party we love, and from this standpoint as well, sequestration is a disaster. At a time the American people are dissatisfied with the president's foreign-policy weakness, Republicans cannot offer themselves as the responsible national-security alternative so long as they are complicit in gutting national defense."
The lawmakers noted that Obama's budget calls for a boost in military spending and said that given the gravity of the challenges facing the nation, they recommend eliminating sequestration from the defense budget and restoring it to $577 billion.
"There is nothing conservative or Republican about pretending that Washington can balance the budget by cutting defense spending. The new Republican majorities in Congress should not allow such reckless policy," McCain and Thornberry said.
"Continuing to slash defense invites greater danger to national security while shamefully asking the country's military men and women to do their jobs with shrinking resources. Without a course change, history's judgment will be harsh, and rightfully so."
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