McKeon: 'Sequester is going to kick in'

Republicans have pushed proposals to reverse sequestration with other spending cuts, but Democrats argue a “balanced approach” would include substantial tax increases.

Senate Democrats rolled out a sequestration alternative package on Thursday that would thwart the first $85 billion in spending cuts that at are set to begin March 1, but the proposal has little chance of passing.

"We are all frustrated," McKeon said, adding he was "hopeful it [would be] weeks, not months, [to] get this fixed" after the cuts come into play next month.

The debate over sequestration has exacerbated partisan tensions of McKeon’s Armed Services panel. The divide was apparent on Wednesday, when GOP members of the committee blamed the Pentagon for putting lawmakers at odds with the military over how to deal with the automatic cuts.

Rep. Rob BishopRobert (Rob) William BishopOvernight Regulation: Senate panel approves driverless car bill | House bill to change joint-employer rule advances | Treasury to withdraw proposed estate tax rule | Feds delaying Obama methane leak rule Overnight Energy: Dems take on Trump's chemical safety pick GOP chairman probes Zinke’s charter plane use MORE (R-Utah) slammed the Defense Department for waiting until the last minute to plan for the across-the-board cuts.

"You are part of the problem … you helped cause this," Bishop angrily told the DOD and military witnesses.

On Friday, McKeon tried to walk back some of the accusations that panel members leveled against the military leaders. He said DOD leaders and military brass have done all they could to sound the alarm about the harmful effects of sequestration.

"From day one, [Defense] Secretary [Leon] Panetta has stated sequestration is a [terrible] thing ... [but] they follow their orders. Did they like it? I'm sure they did not," he said.

Pentagon officials "understand chain of command and they [respect] that," McKeon said.

"We are all frustrated ... [but] I do not think you can blame any of this on the military.”