McCain: Sequestration sets military on ‘dangerous course’

Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman John McCainJohn Sidney McCainClimate change is a GOP issue, too It's Joe Biden's 2020 presidential nomination to lose Meghan McCain on Pelosi-Trump feud: 'Put this crap aside' and 'work together for America' MORE (R-Ariz.) on Wednesday pleaded with his colleagues to come up with a solution to sequestration, calling it “senseless.”

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“More than three years after the passage of the Budget Control Act, it’s time to put an end to this senseless policy, do away with budget-drive strategy, and return to a strategy-driven budget,” McCain said in his opening statement during a hearing with four of the armed services chiefs.

“If we in Congress do not act, sequestration will return in full in fiscal year 2016, setting our military on a far more dangerous course,” he added.

The Arizona Republican’s comments come as the Obama administration is set to release its Defense Department budget on Feb. 2.

The administration will reportedly seek a base defense budget of $534 billion when it sends its 2016 spending request to Congress next week, a figure that exceeds federal caps by $35 billion and could prompt mandatory cuts.

McCain rattled off a number of security challenges that have popped up in the last year, including the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, North Korea’s cyberattack on Sony and Russian forces crossing the border into Ukraine.

“Let’s be clear: If we continue with these arbitrary defense cuts, we will harm our military’s ability to keep us safe,” he said.

McCain said lawmakers have heard from top military commanders before about potential cuts to readiness “yet there are still those that say, ‘Never fear. The sky didn’t fall under sequestration.’ ”

“What a tragically low standard for evaluating the wisdom of government policy,” he said.

He added that “the sky doesn’t need to fall for military readiness to be eroded, for military capabilities to atrophy, or for critical investments in maintaining American military superiority to delayed, cut, or canceled.”