GOP leaders invoke 9/11 to push President Obama on defense cuts

House Republican leaders on Tuesday used the anniversary of the Sept. 11 attacks to push Democrats and the Obama administration to take action against looming cuts to the military.

“We honor those who fell 11 years ago today. We honor those who fought to try to save some of those who died,” Majority Leader Eric CantorEric Ivan CantorThe Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate Race for Republican Speaker rare chance to unify party for election Scalise allies upset over Ryan blindside on McCarthy endorsement MORE (R-Va.) said in a press conference following a closed-door conference meeting. “The best thing that we can do as a people to honor those individuals is to make sure that it never happens again, and we have looming massive defense cuts that this House has acted to substitute.”

Cantor noted comments by Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who said Tuesday that the Pentagon had not begun to prepare for cuts scheduled to take effect in 2013 as part of the Budget Control Act. 

“It says to me, again, there’s a lack of leadership in this administration and we have a desperate need to make sure that our men and women in uniform have what they need,” Cantor said. He added that the cuts, known as sequestration, are “a big issue” in Virginia and “sending tremors through the community up here in northern Virginia and Hampton roads.”

House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) also paid tribute to the victims of Sept. 11 and said that in the spirit of the day, “we need to come together on sequestration.”

The Republicans spoke shortly before attending a bipartisan congressional ceremony to honor the fallen of 9/11, but their willingness to criticize Democrats on the anniversary of the national tragedy underscored that 11 years on, the tradition of breaking from politics on 9/11 has frayed.