Thune bill seeks pending budget cut details
The public should know the details of more than $100 billion in cuts to the Defense Department that will be made at year's end if Congress and the Obama administration can't agree on an alternative plan, Sen. John Thune told reporters Wednesday. ...
The public should know the details of more than $100 billion in cuts to
the Defense Department that will be made at year's end if Congress and
the Obama administration can't agree on an alternative plan, Sen. John
Thune told reporters Wednesday.
"We are trying to determine exactly how those cuts would play out. We
don't know the answer to that," Thune said. "This is a very in-the-dark
process. We are trying to avoid that pileup at the end of the year."
Thune, R-S.D., introduced the Sequestration Transparency Act along with
Sen. Jeff Sessions, R-Ala., and 26 more senators signed on as
The bill's title refers to "sequestration," the automatic spending cuts
that were triggered when Congress and its supercommittee failed to agree
on budget-cutting measures after the bitterly partisan debt-ceiling
fight last August.
"Half would come out of the Defense budget even though Defense makes up
less than 20 percent of the budget," Thune said. "National security
officials, including (Defense) Secretary (Leon) Panetta have said this
would be devastating."
Over 10 years, the defense cuts would mount to more than $1 trillion.
The bill would give the Obama administration until July 9 to provide the
details of how and what it plans to cut.
"This would require them to give us a very clear view soon of exactly
how those cuts would be distributed," Thune said. "We want to take
action to prevent what would be devastating cuts to the military budget,
and to make the American people aware of the effects of this."
Thune acknowledged that the bill's purpose is as much to raise awareness
and spark discussion of the pending budget cuts as it is to get answers
from the White House. Waiting until the 11th hour, for what Thune calls
"the tyranny of the urgent," is not healthy policy-making, he said.
"Too often around here, stuff gets done at the 11th hour in the dark. We
need as much transparency as we can possibly get," he said. "This is an
opportunity to act in a responsible way. Too often, Congress fails to
respond until it's here."