Top Republicans on the Senate Armed Services Committee are pressing Defense Secretary Leon Panetta for specific information about the effect of nearly $1 trillion in across-the-board cuts to military spending even as they are working to find a way around that potential penalty.
“In order for the Congress do to its job, we cannot wait until December or later to receive specific and concrete information,” say Sens. John McCain (Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) in a Nov. 3 letter to Panetta.
McCain and Graham say they need the information because the deadlines for Congress to act on a deficit reduction package are looming. According to the Budget Control Act passed in August, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has until Nov. 23 to recommend $1.2 trillion in federal savings for the next 10 years. Congress then has until Dec. 23 to pass the law, and the president has until Jan. 15 to sign it.
If Congress fails to pass the recommendations into law, the Budget Control Act would place automatic caps on spending, leading to an across-the-board reduction in military spending of $600 billion.
McCain and Graham are both on the record as saying they’d rather pass a law to supersede the pain of the Budget Control Act than abide by the result, and their office confirms that the pair is working on legislation to do just that.