Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday slammed the Obama administration over the cuts under the so-called sequestration process during a hearing on Wednesday.
"You can't have it both ways," Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said on Wednesday regarding the $500 billion of looming defense cuts facing the Pentagon and the need to maintain a viable military response to Iran.
The Virginia Republican also took a shot at the White House's decision to shift its military focus from the Mideast to the Pacific.
That shift will drain DOD's already limited resources for U.S. forces in the Mideast from projecting the necessary military power needed to deter Iran's ongoing nuclear work.
To that end, House Republicans on the defense panel pumped billions into weapons and systems that could be used in a potential conflict with Iran in its version of the fiscal 2013 defense bill. The full House approved the legislation in May
But Rep. Mike Turner (R-Ohio) openly questioned the administration's willingness to maintain a viable military response to Iran during Wednesday's hearing.
The Ohio Republican expressed concern that the growing mentality within administration circles is that "we don't have to do anything" to check Tehran's nuclear work, adding that the sentiment coming out of the White House is that the situation will fizzle out on its own.
But committee Democrats shot back at GOP claims, with Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) comparing Republican complaints on military options for Iran to the war rhetoric that led the United States into war with Iraq.
GOP arguments calling for a stronger U.S. response to Iran "appears to me to have parallels with the run-up towards the invasion of Iraq, which, by the way ... the decision to go in [was] based on faulty intelligence," Johnson said.
Committee ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) pointed out that no viable intelligence has surfaced that Iran was seeking a nuclear weapon.
"I think it was seven years ago when I first heard that Iran would have a nuclear weapon within six months. They didn't and they don't," Smith said on Wednesday. "And it's a very complicated for Iran to figure out whether or not to step across that line."
Former Sen. Chuck Robb (D-Va.), now a senior defense adviser at the Bipartisan Policy Center, reiterated Republicans' stance during his testimony before the committee on Wednesday.
Defense cuts under sequestration will "undermine our ability" to ward off Iran's nuclear ambitions via military might, according to Robb.
"No question these [cuts] present enormous challenges" to America's efforts to prevent a nuclear Iran, he said. The White House and DOD cannot afford to "relax our guard or apparent willingness" to take military action against Iran if intelligence shows Tehran has developed a nuclear weapon.
But Stephen Rademaker, a member of the policy center's National Security project, said on Wednesday that the group's concerns over the adequacy of a U.S. military response to Iran was not "a call to war."
"We're not calling for a military strike. We're calling for credible indications that force is in prospect," Rademaker told the committee. "Our concern is that we don't think the Iranians actually believe that."
Tehran has repeatedly claimed its nuclear program was focused on peaceful means, but has continued to keep its program shrouded in secrecy.
Iranian negotiators have met with members of the P5+1 group — the five members of the United Nations Security Council and Germany — to find a diplomatic solution to the nuclear question.
However, previous rounds of negotiations, along with ongoing talks in Moscow between the parties, have produced little results.