Global Security Newswire
Daily News on Nuclear, Biological & Chemical Weapons, Terrorism and Related Issues
Kyl Unwilling To Cut Nuclear Weapons Spending To Avoid Sequestration
WASHINGTON – Senate Minority Whip Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) said on Wednesday he would be unwilling to consider any reductions to U.S. nuclear weapons spending in order to avoid budget sequestration as mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act (see GSN, June 21).
“The answer to the question is no,” Kyl told Global Security Newswire after speaking at a Capitol Hill event sponsored by the Heritage Foundation and other conservative groups. Kyl said cuts should come from nondefense areas of the federal government.
During the event, titled “Defending Defense,” Republican lawmakers reaffirmed their position that President Obama should take the lead on efforts to avoid sequestration.
“You’re the commander in chief, not me,” Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said, referring to Obama. “You should be leading.”
House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard McKeon (R-Calif.) reiterated previously expressed doubts that Congress would be able to resolve the budget issue during a lame-duck session following the November election.
McKeon last month chastised the Obama administration for not coming forward with a plan to deal with possible sequestration. Under the Budget Control Act, automatic, across-the-board cuts to federal programs would be instituted if lawmakers do not enact $1.2 trillion in deficit-reductions by January 2013. No such deal is currently in hand.
Under sequestration close to $500 billion of the automatic funding cuts would come over 10 years from the Pentagon and nuclear-weapon operations at the Energy Department, according to a report by McKeon’s panel. The Defense Department is already facing a similar decade-long spending cutback.
Management and Budget Office spokesman Kenneth Baer in June said that while “OMB has not yet engaged agencies in planning, [its] staff is conducting the analysis necessary to move forward if necessary.” He said that should “it get to a point where it appears Congress will not do its job and the sequester may take effect, we will be prepared.”
Fiscal 2013 defense authorization legislation that originated in McKeon's committee and has passed the House allows for $554 billion in base defense spending, more than the $551 billion requested by the Obama administration. The White House has threatened to veto the bill on several grounds, including that it would violate the Budget Control Act.
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