White House spokesman Jay Carney said the “focus of the conversation was the potential devastating impacts of the sequester going into effect.”
But Carney insisted that legislation to replace the automatic cuts had to include new tax revenue, saying “it cannot be spending cuts alone.”
Meanwhile, a coalition of outside groups, including Taxpayers for Common Sense and Americans for Tax Reform, sent a letter to members of Congress on Wednesday arguing that the Pentagon could absorb the cuts.
“Consensus exists among civilian and military experts that (the Defense Department) can absorb at least sequestration levels of spending cuts while retaining a robust force to meet the nation's security needs,” the letter states.
“The bottom line is that sequestration will not weaken our military and should only be the first step in realigning the Pentagon's priorities.”
But Rep. Buck McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, said top military leaders will testify next week about the specific cuts they'll have to make.
“When the American people find that out, there's going to be some real change,” he said.