Sens. John McCain and Kelly Ayotte prepare to speak at a news conference Wednesday to decry automatic spending cuts that they say will hurt the military.
Kyl was joined at his press conference by Senate Armed Services ranking member John McCain (Ariz.) and Sens. Lindsey Graham (S.C.) and Kelly Ayotte (N.H.). But they did not offer many details and instead sought to lay down a marker that they will pursue this in the coming year.
The Senators said they would look to attach their proposed cuts to other legislative vehicles, a signal that they intend a long-running effort.
“It will probably be introduced as a [stand-alone] bill, but it may be that it actually passes as an amendment to something or as part of another bill that is going to be passing,” Kyl said. “We just want this to get done however it can get done. ... We just want to avoid the sequester.”
Kyl added that the Senators will be collecting proposed cuts from items agreed to in the super committee, the deficit reduction group led by Vice President Joseph Biden, as well as a proposal put forth by Republican Sen. Tom Coburn (Okla.).
“Spectrum auction, land sales, [increased] fees to Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae, things of that sort,” Kyl said.
Graham said he was opposed to the sequester idea from its inception because it doesn’t make sense to punish the military if Congress does not do its job.
“For a Congress that is known for really ill-conceived ideas, this one takes the cake,” Graham said.
“The idea that if you fail to do the most minimum task, [then] let’s gut the military,” Graham continued. “Who thought that would be a good idea?”
Graham said he believes if the sequester takes effect it could result in layoffs of soldiers who have fought for the nation.
“It offends the hell out of me that we would even consider that. These men and women have gone out of their way to protect us,” he said. “If you are going to fire anyone, fire us and keep the soldiers. They are doing a better job for our country.”
McCain pointed out that the cuts would come on top of the $450 billion in cuts over 10 years mandated by the deal to raise the debt ceiling. But he added that defense spending would not be held sacrosanct.
“We will include efficiencies to be made in defense spending in our proposal but not anywhere near the magnitude of those that would be required by this idiotic process that we just completed,” McCain said.
McCain and Kyl voted for the debt deal in August that established the super committee and the sequester, while Ayotte and Graham opposed it.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.