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Congress is Trying to Scuttle Committee’s Legal Obligation to Cut Defense


The initial deal to reduce the deficit by $1.5 trillion over the next decade in exchange for raising the debt ceiling contained what is called a trigger mechanism: if the debt committee couldn’t pass a budget cutting proposal, automatic across the board cuts would be activated – including defense.

But now members of Congress are working to overturn that key element of the deal. The Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction, the 12 Republicans and Democrats appointed to the task otherwise known as the “super committee,” needs to have a plan by November 23, but is said to be short of the $1.5-trillion goal. And public statements and intense lobbying from defense corporations indicate the trigger mechanism will be scuttled by Congress.

Senator Jon Kyl of Arizona said he would walk away from his position on the super committee if any defense cuts were at all a part of its final proposal. Senator John McCain, who is not on the committee, has said he would try to eliminate the mandatory defense cuts before the deadline. And Rep. Howard P. McKeon, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, spread fear that steep mandatory cuts would require the military to institute the draft.


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