Scott Walker says he will end defense cuts if elected president

Scott Walker says he will end defense cuts if elected president
© Greg Nash

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, a potential Republican presidential contender, on Saturday said he supports ending the cuts to defense spending under sequestration.

“There’s no way we can adequately fund the defense budget under the sequester,” Walker said in an interview with McClatchy Saturday in South Carolina, a state with a large military economy and the site of the first primary in the South. 

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Walker has sought to boost his national security and foreign policy credentials, and his comments could help win him support from the military and the defense industry. The governor is currently in Israel, on a trip to meet with Israeli Prime Minster Benjamin Netanyahu and bolster his foreign policy bona fides.

The remarks come as Congress is struggling with overturning the sequester caps, which is slated to cut $500 billion from the defense budget through 2023, on top of an already planned cuts of $500 billion. It also cuts $500 billion in domestic spending, although spread across various agencies. 

The sequester cuts were mandated by the 2011 Budget Control Act after lawmakers could not agree on tax and spending reform.  

Republican defense hawks are pushing to lift the defense caps, but fiscal hawks in their party want to leave those and domestic spending caps in place. 

Republicans have succeeded in passing budget resolutions this year that would boost defense spending only. The House and Senate are also poised to pass defense policy bills that authorize larger defense spending, but leave the caps in place.

Democrats oppose lifting only the defense caps, and President Obama has threatened to veto any bills that leave them in place. 

Walker said he would lift budget caps for domestic programs too. He said he would replace savings from the sequester by sending federal functions back to states, such as Medicaid, a joint federal-state health care program.