Cheney to meet with House GOP to discuss defense sequester cuts

Former Vice President Dick Cheney will meet with House Republican members on Tuesday to discuss his concerns with the impending $500 billion in sequester cuts to the defense budget, two House GOP sources confirmed to The Hill.

Cheney will meet with Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and is expected to drop in on a meeting with House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio), Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) and other members of leadership.

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The meeting comes as lawmakers ratchet up their focus on sequestration. 

The House Armed Services Committee will hold two hearings over the next two weeks with top defense industry executives testifying Wednesday on the cuts' expected impact on jobs and the acting head of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB), Jeffrey Zients, speaking on Aug. 1.

Republicans have pushed to raise public awareness of the cuts. Defense industry leaders have warned that they will be forced to lay off workers, and some Republican lawmakers are suggesting the industry could send out layoff notices ahead of the November election. 

Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) has also pressed the administration to better explain what effect the sequestration cuts would have on the military.

The Pentagon says it has not yet begun planning for sequestration, however, awaiting instructions from OMB. The Senate last month passed legislation that would force the Pentagon, OMB and White House to report to lawmakers on sequestration's impact.

The $500 billion in Pentagon cuts, agreed to as part of 2011's deal to raise the debt-ceiling limit, is set to take effect in January.

Lawmakers from both parties say they hope to avoid the cuts, but Democrats are insisting that any comprehensive deficit-reduction plan include tax hikes on the wealthy, which Republican say is a non-starter.

The sequester cuts could also play a role in the presidential race, as some key swing states such as Virginia have a large military presence.

Cheney has met with GOP lawmakers before, most recently in November when he joined Senate Republicans at their weekly lunch.

This story was updated at 9:55 a.m.