House GOP Hawks Court Obama on Defense Cuts Reversal

House GOP hawks want Obama's support against Pentagon cuts.

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The House Armed Services Committee released a video just hours before President Barack Obama's State of the Union address urging the commander in chief to support a GOP bill that would void some planned Pentagon spending cuts.

In a video posted on YouTube Tuesday, several GOP House Armed Services Committee members used words like "irresponsible" and "radical" to describe coming Defense Department spending cuts. They warn of "hollowing our military" and of "massive" numbers of troops being expelled from the armed forces.

The House Republicans are taking aim at $500 billion in national defense spending cuts that would be implemented between 2013 and 2023 if Congress fails to reach a debt-reduction deal twice that size this year. Those automatic cuts from planned spending would be triggered under a process known as sequestration, and was set in motion when the congressional supercommittee failed to reach a deficit-reduction accord last year.

Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.) says in the video those cuts would "radically" reduce the nation's defenses. Rep. Allen West (R-Fla.), a former Army officer, cited Defense Secretary Leon Panetta's comments that the $500 billion, decade-long reduction to planned military spending would be "irresponsible." Rep. John Runyan (R-N.J.) said Washington should not "ask those who have given so much to give that much more."

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They want Obama to embrace something called the "Down Payment To Protect National Security Act," which was introduced in mid-December by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.). That bill would generate $127 billion in federal savings by mandating a 10 percent reduction in federal workers over a decade. It would require that $55 billion of that amount to be used to offset some of the Pentagon cuts, and an equal amount to be used to offset non-defense cuts that would be required under the sequestration process, according to McKeon's office. The remaining $17 billion would go toward paying down the federal deficit.

While it remains unclear whether the bill has ample support to pass the House, or if it even will come up for a full chamber vote this year, one senior Democratic House aide said the McKeon bill fails to pass the budgetary sniff test.

"In what world does it make good financial sense to generate money over a ten year period to pay for one year of spending? This is a short sighted approach that reflects standard Washington, D.C. thinking," the Democratic aide told U.S. News & World Report. "The American people deserve a broad solution that address our structural problem, not exasperates them."

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The Democratic aide predicted the McKeon legislation, which features all GOP cosponsors, likely will not be endorsed by GOP House leaders.

Many moderate and conservative congressional Democrats also oppose the $500 billion in Pentagon cuts-which would be in addition to a $350 billion reduction the department already is implementing. But these Democrats want to void the defense cuts by passing a sweeping deficit-reduction year, though they acknowledge that will be tough in what promises to be a bitter election year.

"Any path forward must put everything on the table," Sen. Chris Coons (D-Del.) said last month. "That includes spending cuts, entitlement reform and new revenues. And there are a lot of ways to accomplish that. Coons said rather than simply allowing sequestration to take effect, "I would far rather get a big, bold, bipartisan deal."

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