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Republicans Opposed To Sequestration Promise Major Assault Against Pentagon Waste

Republicans remain internally divided on the defense budget, and two camps are forming.

Deficit hawks have pointed to out-of-control levels of waste at the Pentagon as justification for widespread cuts. Others, like Sen. John McCain and Rep. Mark Thornberry, have proposed adding tens of billions to the defense budget to address growing threats, promising that they will aggressively slash waste at the Pentagon, once the prospect of sequestration is no longer looming.

The debate is tangled as a result of the House and Senate budget committees introducing completely different proposals. In the House, Republicans floated the idea of keeping spending caps on, while sliding an additional $40 billion dollars into the war budget. The war budget has no spending limits, but this move has widely been described as exploiting a technicality, which even McCain called a “gimmick.”

Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina tried the same technicality on the Senate side, adding to the resolution first proposed by Republican Sen. Michael B. Enzi. Both budgets now allocate between $617 and $619 billion dollars for defense, an amount which is $96 billion dollars above sequestration limits and $58 billion above base funding suggested by the White House. Leaders from all branches of the military have testified repeatedly that sequestration would be damaging to the military’s ability to defense American interests.

“This [sequestration] strategy of blindly cutting spending across-the-board hits good and bad programs alike, and does nothing to tackle waste at the Pentagon,” Julie Tarallo, deputy press secretary for McCain, told The Daily Caller News Foundation.

And in a recent op-ed at the Wall Street Journal, McCain and Thornberry argued that sequestration is completely unwarranted, given tangible threats to national security and American interests from the Iranian nuclear weapons program, aggressive Chinese movements in the South China Sea and Russia’s annexation of Crimea.

The Budget Control Act, which mandates $1 trillion worth of cuts over a 10-year period, is unacceptable, as far the two Republicans are concerned. It doesn’t actually target waste at the Pentagon, which is instead better “accomplished through vigorous oversight in Congress and at the Pentagon, not through blind, automatic spending cuts.”

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