Senate

McCain, GOP propose sequestration amendment for farm bill

McCain, the ranking member on Armed Services, said he and every
Republican on the committee have filed an amendment to the farm bill on
sequestration. The amendment is identical to the one included in the
committee’s Defense authorization bill, which asks for details about the
effects of the automatic cuts that begin in January 2013.

“I intend to offer this amendment when the Farm Bill is
considered, and if it is not adopted on that bill, I will offer it to the next
available bill to ensure that this vitally important information is provided to
Congress,” McCain said in a statement.

{mosads}Throughout the year, Republicans have pressed Pentagon
officials about the impact of sequestration, but officials from Defense
Secretary Leon Panetta on down have said they are not yet planning for the
automatic cuts of about $50 billion a year for the next decade.

The Pentagon’s stance has irked GOP members of Congress who
are pushing for a quick reversal of the defense cuts, something most people
don’t expect to be addressed until after the election.

Last week’s news that war funding was included in the
sequestration cuts further added to the Republican outcry, which McCain said
Wednesday “may impact our ongoing military commitments and our ability to keep
our troops safe.”

While Pentagon officials say that sequestration would be “devastating,”
they say that there isn’t much planning required for sequestration, because the
cuts are done in a mindless, across-the-board manner.

The amendment that McCain and the Republicans are offering
passed the Armed Services panel unanimously when the bill was marked up last
month.

McCain said the amendment is necessary because “Congress
needs an official, detailed assessment from the department on the serious
damage to military readiness and the increased risk to our military operations
in Afghanistan which would result if sequestration is allowed to occur.”

The report in the amendment does not stop sequestration —
McCain has a bill to delay it for one year by cutting federal workers, but that
has not attracted any Democratic support — but it would give Defense hawks in Congress
more ammo to argue for a change to the automatic cuts.

Of course, McCain might be better off sticking with his
original legislative horse. The Defense authorization bill has passed for 50
straight years, while the farm bill could run into
problems
between the House and Senate.

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