WASHINGTON, D.C. -- U.S. Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC), and Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) today introduced a bill to grant flexibility to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) for the full $85 billion in sequestration cuts for the rest of fiscal year 2013. The bill also grants the Department of Defense (DoD) transfer authority during the Continuing Resolution.
The legislation binds the president to Congressional spending limits passed by Congress, including the FY’13 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), and requires OMB’s proposed cuts have the same outlay impacts as the sequester. A provision in the legislation gives Congress the power to overturn the OMB’s proposed cuts by passing a joint Congressional resolution of disapproval by a simple majority.
“We have heard time and again from military leaders that sequestration threatens to hollow out our military and compromise our national security,” said Inhofe. “We must look to avert these cuts to our defense, but until the President stops playing political games with the sequester, Congress should at the very least give what our military leaders have directly asked from me which is the ability to determine where defense cuts take place within their budgets in order to mitigate the impact. The across-the-board cuts of sequestration are irresponsible and do not distinguish high priority programs from low priority spending. Half of these cuts are targeting our military despite the fact that defense comprises only 18 percent of our federal spending. Furthermore, the President has already taken $600 billion cuts in the past four years while non-defense spending has increased by 30 percent."
Inhofe continued, “This bill allows the president to listen to the advice of his military leadership and, in a manner consistent with the FY’13 National Defense Authorization Act, offset some of the devastating impacts of sequestration with modest reductions to lower priority programs. It will also ease the necessity and duration of furloughs and help prevent millions of taxpayer dollars from being wasted over contract terminations costs. Most importantly, this bill sets a ceiling on the cuts that can be taken to defense this year at roughly $42 billion, which gives the president the opportunity to shift fewer cuts away from the DoD by taking more from non-defense spending. This bill is not the substitute for fixing sequestration and putting a stop on further defense cuts. However, until that solution is found, this bill would make a potentially devastating situation a little more manageable.”