GOP hawk to Obama: Shield troops, families from further budget cuts

A House Republican hawk is calling on President Obama to shield military personnel and their families from additional military spending cuts as the Pentagon faces the prospect of $1 trillion in budget cuts over the next decade.

In a Wednesday letter to Obama obtained by The Hill, Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-Calif.) notes the Budget Control Act handed the president “discretion over whether to make certain cuts.”

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“Using this authority,” Hunter wrote, “I ask that you show your commitment to our military families and take action or at least indicate your intent to exempt military pay for active duty service personnel under sequestration.”

After Congress failed to reach a debt-reduction deal this month, $600 billion in national defense cuts, set up as an incentive for the supercommittee to reach a deal, have been triggered. Those cuts, which are set to go into effect Jan. 1, 2013, are on top of a separate 10-year, $350 billion reduction already being enacted. Sequestration is the process under which the $600 billion in cuts would be carried out.

Pentagon officials and congressional hawks say nearly $1 trillion in cuts over that span would cripple the U.S. military, making it unable to perform all of its needed missions.

“America is at war, with men and women in harm’s way. At various points throughout the budget process, the possible disruption of military pay caused rightful frustration among military families, which already have enough to worry about during deployments and extended training,” Hunter told Obama.

“By exempting military pay for active duty personnel from what is likely to be a contentious budget debate in the coming months, we can provide a sense of security and relief to military families,” the GOP member wrote.