House Armed Services Chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon decried the sequester spending cuts that will begin hitting the Pentagon on Friday, standing with a group of the panel’s subcommittee chairmen to demand replacement spending cuts.
“I have never in my lifetime seen such a lack of leadership and truth-telling emanating from the White House and from our commander in chief,” the California Republican said.
The group of GOP lawmakers said they are not willing to budge on President Barack Obama’s demand that any sequester replacement bill include tax increases as well as spending cuts.
“Most people understand what the real problem is: it’s the mandatory spending. And not bringing that into the discussion makes the rest of this kind of an exercise in futility,” McKeon said.
“It is not lost on people in Southeast Alabama that we do not have a revenue problem, we have a spending problem. And it’s very difficult to stomach the president’s scare tactics in order to raise taxes when you’re spending $2 billion a year on free cell phones,” added Rep. Martha Roby, R-Ala., the chairwoman of the committee’s oversight panel.
Several Republicans also referred to veteran Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward’s recent conflict with the White House, with McKeon saying Woodward is being “crucified” and “vilified” for trying to “lay out the truth.”
McKeon and his allies have worked publicly and privately to try to avert the cuts since immediately after the Budget Control Act was passed.
Asked if he should shoulder any of the blame for the cuts going into effect, McKeon, who voted for the legislation that included the sequester, said, “There’s enough blame to go around. Many of these members voted against it. I took the leadership’s promise that the super committee would do its work. The president promised it would never happen. That’s passed. It happened.”
Ohio Republican Rep. Michael R. Turner said Thursday that when he voted against the bill in 2011 he foresaw the sequester ultimately going into effect.
“I voted against sequester because I believed we would be right here, right where we are, with no plan, a president who’s showing no leadership, and our men and women paying the price for brinkmanship,” Turner said.