Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) says he’s so committed to defense spending, he’d overturn key provisions of the debt ceiling deal to protect it.
In a Capitol press conference Thursday, McCain told reporters he’d be “among the first” to suggest ignoring any cuts to defense that would take place if the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction (the so-called “Super Committee”) fails to produce a plan by Nov. 23.
“If there’s a failure on the part of the super committee, we will be amongst the first on the floor to nullify that provision,” McCain said. “Congress is not bound by this — it’s something we passed; we can reverse it.”
“As far as I’m concerned, I will fight any additional cuts in defense spending,” McCain added. “But I will also tell you that cost overruns as far as procurement is concerned is an insult to the American taxpayers. There are many efficiencies that can still be imposed.”
Under the debt ceiling deal negotiated in August, Congress must find at least $1.2 trillion in government savings by Thanksgiving. Should super committee negotiations stall, agencies across the board face an automatic and immediate budget cut.
The Defense Department would be among those hardest hit by sequestration. Some $500 billion are on the line, on top of the $450 billion the Pentagon already plans to cut over the next ten years. Immediate cuts, experts say, would be much worse for the military compared to a gradual approach to cuts that can be melded with evolving defensive strategies.
With time running short, the chances of a super committee deal are looking rather slim. Members are reportedly deadlocked on familiar issues of taxation and entitlements.
Asked whether he found his position at odds with the bipartisan committee’s mandate, McCain said he had no qualms about circumventing the body.
“I didn’t create the trigger to begin with, so I have no ownership in that.”