Cheney warns GOP senators of harm from $500B in defense cuts

Former Vice President Dick Cheney addressed the Senate Republican conference Tuesday, where he delivered a dire assessment of the harm $500 billion in defense cuts could do to the military, according to senators.

Cheney’s presentation at the GOP Senate lunch was nothing new for Republicans, who have already been articulating the dangers of the defense cuts under sequestration. But his rare appearance on Capitol Hill underscored momentum that has built among Republicans to try and stop the impending cuts.

ADVERTISEMENT
“He just talked about the stupidity of the sequester, where you cut everything the same,” said Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Okla.).

Republicans said that Cheney did not talk about the politics of sequestration or suggest fixes, but focused on the impact of the cuts on the defense budget.

Cheney, who also served as Defense secretary under former President George H.W. Bush, said that the cuts would have a lingering impact by killing weapons programs and other items with a long lifespan.

“When you make these cuts across the board the way that the sequester does, it’s not only the impact on today, it will have long-term impacts on the DOD because you make the long-term investments, particularly on weapons programs.” Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) told reporters.

“And he pointed that out with respect to other conflicts that we’ve fought,” she added. “We never know when the next conflict is coming, and that was a point he made as well.”

Some senators were less than enthusiastic to share the vice president’s thoughts with the throng of reporters outside the meeting.

Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) said that the conference was happy to see him, but he turned to sarcasm when asked about what was discussed.

“We just talked. It was wonderful, one of the greatest experiences of my life,” McCain said.

The former vice president is also meeting with House Republicans later on Tuesday.