WASHINGTON (AP) — Substantial reductions in military spending should be part of any budget deal that President Barack Obama negotiates with Congress to avert the so-called "fiscal cliff" of automatic tax hikes and spending cuts, a group of House Republicans and Democrats said Monday.
With just three weeks to the double economic hit, 22 lawmakers endorsed further cuts in projected military spending to address the nation's debt, arguing that long-term, strategic reductions were possible with the end of the war in Iraq and the drawdown in Afghanistan.
"As we transition from wartime to peacetime, and as we confront our nation's fiscal challenges, future defense budgets should reflect the conclusion of these wars and acknowledge that our modern military is able to approach conflicts utilizing fewer but more advanced resources," the lawmakers wrote in a letter to Obama and congressional leaders.
The lawmakers said "substantial defense savings" could be achieved without undermining national security, and they urged Obama, House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, and other congressional leaders to include such savings in any agreement.
Signing the letter were Reps. Barney Frank, D-Mass., and Mick Mulvaney, R-S.C., who earlier this year led a coalition of liberal Democrats and conservative Republicans in persuading the House to cut $1.1 billion from a $608 billion defense bill. It was the clearest signal yet that defense dollars would no longer be spared from budget cuts in a time of astronomical deficits.
Also signing the letter were Reps. Chris Gibson, R-N.Y., a member of the House Armed Services Committee, and Keith Ellison, D-Minn.
The latest Republican proposal in the negotiations with Obama calls for $300 billion in cuts in discretionary spending over 10 years, but it does not specify how much would be cut from defense and domestic programs.