Frank argued that defense spending was more than half of all discretionary spending in 2010 and said much of this was for military bases overseas that are not involved in wars in the Middle East.

Frank's comments represent one side of a debate that is expected to pick up in the coming weeks, as the supercommittee is due to come up with a set of spending reductions by Nov 23. Expectations are very low for an agreement on how to cut spending, but failure to reach a deal would open the door to mandated defense and entitlement cuts.

This possibility has already led to warnings from Sen. John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Sarah Sanders: ‘Democrats are losing their war against women in the Trump administration’ MORE (R-Ariz.), Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and others about the idea of $500 billion in automatic cuts to defense — McCain has indicated several times that he would fight any such cuts, raising the question of whether Congress might retreat from the additional cuts entirely.

Weekend press reports said Bank of America is predicting another downgrade in the U.S. credit rating fueled by concerns that Congress will not be able to reach any agreement to cut spending further.