Reid: Dems will oppose efforts to spare Defense from automatic cuts

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) said Tuesday that Democrats would not allow Republicans to save the Pentagon from cuts if the supercommittee fails to reach a deal.

The Defense Department is slated for $500 billion in cuts if the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction fails to produce an agreement with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts by Nov. 23.

Some Republicans have said they will try to reverse the automatic cuts that would hit Defense but Reid vowed that non-defense discretionary programs would not carry the burden alone.

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“If committee fails to act, sequestration is going to go forward. Democrats aren’t going to take an unfair, unrealistic load directed toward domestic discretionary spending and take it away from the military,” Reid told reporters. 

Reid said he would personally oppose any effort to unwind the penalty cuts.

“Those who talk about retracting the sequester are not living up to the agreement we reached … last July,” he said. 

“I would not vote to undo the sequester,” he added.

Reid tried to quash speculation that congressional leaders will step in to jumpstart the stalled supercommittee talks. Congressional sources said a meeting earlier in the day between Reid and House Republican Leader John Boehner (R-Ohio) signaled the talks were being kicked up to the leadership level.

Reid said the leaders discussed the supercommittee but not in substantive detail.

He claimed to be unfamiliar with the latest proposal from Republican members of the supercommittee.

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), the co-chairman of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction, has kept Reid updated throughout the negotiations. Nevertheless, Reid sought to distance himself from the panel Tuesday.

“I don’t know what the Republican proposal is. There are all kinds of rumors. I don’t know what their proposal is,” Reid told reporters.

Reid said there has been so little progress on the supercommittee that there has been little opportunity for leaders to intervene.

“I don’t think there’s anything to kick up to the leadership level until there’s something that we can take a look at,” Reid said. “There’s nothing to look at at this stage, at least as far as I know.”