"Not only has the GOP leadership refused to ask special interests, millionaires and billionaires to pay their fair share, now they are demanding even more budget-busting tax breaks for those who need them the least," the Senate majority leader wrote. "Sequestration was designed to overcome such ideological extremism. And I am convinced that, in time, it will," Reid added.
Hours later, McKeon swung back hard with his own statement, slamming congressional Democrats for the same type of political stubbornness that Reid levied against McKeon and Republicans on Capitol Hill.
"While the House made tough choices and acted to resolve the first year of sequestration, Senator Reid has seen fit only to posture and preen," the California Republican added. "It is time for him to get to work."
With six months to go before $500 billion in automatic defense cuts under sequestration go into effect, it remains to be seen if either party possesses the political capital to do more than exchange sharply worded tirades and partisan shots on the issue.
Panetta, Dempsey to talk about leaks: Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey are coming to the Capitol next week to talk about national security leaks to the House Armed Services Committee in a closed-door hearing. The hearing is the committee’s first step to get a handle on the recent spate of national security leaks that drew widespread condemnation in Congress.
The inevitable question, of course, is whether anyone will wind up leaking information from the closed-door hearing.
Senate sinking Law of the Sea: Congressional opponents of the Law of the Sea treaty came one step, or vote, closer to sounding the death knell for the controversial pact.
Nebraska Republican Sen. Mike Johanns became the 31st senator to sign a letter against ratification of the global maritime deal sent to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) earlier this year. Because treaty ratification requires a two-thirds Senate majority, Johanns's addition to the list means treaty opponents are now only three votes short of blocking the entire measure.
Opponents of the treaty have targeted eight Senate Republicans in a bid to lock in the final three votes to block ratification. Sens. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), Thad Cochran (R-Miss.), Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Mike Enzi (R-Wyo.), Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), Mark Kirk (R-Ill.), Rob Portman (R-Ohio) and John McCain (R-Ariz.) are on the list, according to Heritage Action.
Administration officials have long tied treaty ratification to maintaining stability in places like the South China Sea and other maritime hot spots in the Pacific and around the world. Treaty opponents in the Senate argue the pact does nothing to guarantee regional security along the waterways in the Pacific or elsewhere.
Aside from national security priorities, treaty ratification would also hand over power to the International Seabed Authority to distribute a portion of oil-and-gas royalties from offshore operations. A ratification vote is expected to take place after the November presidential elections, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-Mass.) said earlier this year.
Page limits no more: The Pentagon dropped its guidance that reports to Congress should not exceed 10 pages Thursday, but not before House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) threatened to block DOD’s reprogramming requests. In the course of an hour, McKeon made his threat and Pentagon spokesman George Little said the policy was dropped — making it unclear whether one event caused the other or not.
Either way, the fight over the length of congressional reports led to some laughs in the Pentagon press briefing room Thursday. After announcing the policy had been rescinded, Little was asked: “Do you have any accurate record on how many pages beyond 10 members of Congress even read?”
“That's really a question best directed to members of Congress,” he responded, trying to hold back a smile.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT:
— Crocker downplays civil war threat in Afghanistan
— House to take up defense appropriations bill next week
— McCain warns of non passage of defense authorization bill
— Women expected to take on larger role in U.S. special operations
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