House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, R-Calif., says Democrats are shirking their duty to help Republicans curb the automatic defense spending cuts scheduled to begin next year.
The reductions are set to total $600 billion over the next decade. They stem from the failure of Congress’ supercommittee to agree on a deficit reduction plan last November. Both Republicans and Pentagon officials have said the decreases would compromise national security.
But Democrats in Congress and President Barack Obama are doing nothing to reverse the damage, McKeon told The Hill
. And he’s not buying Democrats’ claim that refusal by Republicans to raise taxes is the sticking point.
“We’ve taken action. They haven’t,” McKeon said. “It doesn’t do any good for [Majority Leader Harry] Reid or anybody else to go where they go and give a speech and say they have to have more revenue. Come up with something.”
The outlook isn’t positive for action to be taken, McKeon says. Trying to reduce the cuts in a lame-duck session would just mean chaos, he said. And he’s not enthusiastic about plans from hawkish Sens. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and John McCain, R-Ariz., to offset restoration of some of the defense cuts by closing tax loopholes to increase revenue by $40 billion to $50 billion.
“That’s Republicans negotiating with Republicans,” McKeon said. “Nothing happens until you get Republicans negotiating with Democrats and the administration. There is no reason for us to talk about anything other than you pass a bill [in the Senate], and then we go to conference, and then we talk. Other than that, we are negotiating with ourselves, and what good does that do?”
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