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GOP Rep. West presses Obama to help avert looming defense cuts

Republican Rep. Allen West (Fla.) on Saturday urged President Obama to work with lawmakers to help avert sequestration, calling the impending automatic cuts to defense a “dark could” which “hangs over our military.”

“I spent 22 years in active duty service in the United States Army and served in several combat zones.   I cannot understate the amount of damage these cuts would do to our military,” said West, a retired Army officer, in the Republican weekly address.

West said the cuts would “hollow out” the nation’s military forces leaving the country with “the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1915, and the smallest tactical fighter force in the history of the modern United States Air Force.” 

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The Florida lawmaker pressed the administration to accept a Republican proposal for avoiding the impending cuts, and said Obama had shown a “failure to lead.”

“What makes it even more so is the fact that this sequester was his administration’s idea in the first place,” said West. “Dodging his responsibility is how the sequester came about, so it is no surprise the president is doing the exact same thing now.”

On Friday, the White House unveiled a report which said the $110 billion in cuts, which would hit both defense and non-defense programs, would have a “devastating impact.”

The administration and Senate Democrats have rejected a House GOP measure to avoid the cuts, insisting on new revenues to help offset the spending reductions. Republicans, though, say new taxes would further hamper the economic recovery.

Both parties hope to avoid the “fiscal cliff” of spending cuts and expiring tax rates set to take effect next year, but are at an impasse over a solution. 

In the GOP address, West pointed to this week’s turmoil in the Middle East, arguing that the nation needed a strong military more than ever.

“Look at the week we have just been through.  Consider the stark, horrific reminders that freedom remains under siege by forces who relish terror and violence over freedom and free expression,” he said. “Remember how critical it is that the United States projects strength, that we remain vigilant and resolute in the defense of our liberties and way of life.

“It is because of these threats that America must continue to fund its military and support its Armed Forces to the fullest extent,” continued West. “The lives of all Americans depend on it.  As do the memories of Ambassador Chris Stevens and the public servants who perished with him this week in the Middle East."

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