COURTESY OF REP. BUCK MCKEON
(Victor Valley)– The presumed incoming chairman of the House Armed Services Committee said recently that he doesn’t see the defense budget as a target for significant spending cuts, especially when it comes to personnel costs.
“I sure don’t see cuts in the end strength,” Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., told reporters at a Foreign Policy Initiative event. “We’re just getting to the point now where we’re able to give soldiers two years at home between deployments. That’s a real good thing. If you cut the numbers, you might go back to 1 ½ years. So I’m not supportive of that.”
McKeon, currently the ranking member on the committee, said that he supports efforts to make the Defense Department more efficient and more cost-conscious, but added that “cutting defense spending amidst two wars is a red line for me and should be a red line for all Americans.” He voiced concerns that military spending is already below where it needs to be to develop future capabilities and weapons systems.
The remarks were a preview of next year’s defense budget debate, one that will begin in McKeon’s committee early next year. He also promised “clean defense authorization bills,” taking a shot at Democrats’ decision to include the “don’t ask, don’t tell” repeal and immigration amendments in this year’s authorization measure.
“They have used the defense bill to advance a controversial agenda on the backs of our military men and women,” he said. “This must end today.”
He also added that this year’s authorization bill, currently stalled in the Senate, has little chance of being passed before the end of the year. That would mark the first time in 48 years that Congress has failed to approve the defense measure.