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House Republicans again will try to avert deep military spending cuts, Oklahoma lawmakers say

Reps. James Lankford and Tom Cole say Republicans are willing to restructure the $1 trillion automatic cuts set to take place early next month but that they won't reduce the amount. They note that the House passed legislation twice last year to reduce the impact on the military.
by Chris Casteel Published: February 4, 2013

House Republicans want $1 trillion in automatic budget cuts to take effect next month but will try to blunt the impact on the nation's military, Oklahoma lawmakers say.

Rep. James Lankford, R-Oklahoma City, said the Republican-controlled House likely will consider legislation this month to re-allocate the cuts so they don't disproportionately hit the military.

Lankford, a member of the House GOP leadership, declined to discuss the specifics of the plan, but he said the Republican alternative would require more changes to programs such as Medicare and Medicaid. As structured, only 2 percent of the reductions in the next 10 years would come from Medicare and none from Medicaid, Lankford said.

A plan to change entitlements would likely have no chance of becoming law without an agreement by Republicans to raise more revenue, since the White House has insisted on a deal that combines spending cuts with higher taxes.

White House spokesman Jay Carney and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., said eliminating tax credits and deductions used by oil and gas companies should be part of the discussion.

“It can't be we'll let (the automatic cuts) kick in because we insist that tax loopholes remain where they are for corporate jet owners, or subsidies provided to the oil and gas companies that have done so exceedingly well in recent years have to remain in place,” Carney told reporters.

Lankford and Rep. Tom Cole, R-Moore, said House Republicans would not back any deal involving more revenue to alter the cuts.

“I think they're under the assumption that Republicans are going to cave on this,” Cole said. “We're not going to.”

Lankford agreed, saying, “What is worse than the (automatic cuts) is no cuts at all.”

Cole and Lankford both serve on the House Budget Committee.

Cole is also on the subcommittee that oversees military spending.

Cole, whose district includes Tinker Air Force Base and Fort Sill, said he doesn't want the cuts to take effect as currently written and that House Republicans had passed legislation twice last year to reduce the impact on the military. The Senate never took up the House legislation, and the White House has not offered its own plan specifically tailored for the cuts.

“We are headed for a train wreck, and I would say it's because the president and the Senate haven't done their jobs,” Cole said.

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by Chris Casteel
Washington Bureau
Chris Casteel began working for The Oklahoman's Norman bureau in 1982 while a student at the University of Oklahoma. After covering the police beat, federal courts and the state Legislature in Oklahoma City, he moved to Washington in 1990, where...
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