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Daily Record: Opinion: U.S. approach to national security should be challenged

By: Rep. Rodney Frelinghuysen (NJ-11)

Chairman of the Defense Appropriations Subcommittee

 

Sequester did not create the existing security climate that reflects indecision, hesitation or ambivalence in our defense and foreign policy.

Over the next few weeks, the American people will be hearing a great deal about an arcane legislative phrase known as the sequester. It is a concept born decades ago and only revived in recent years.

In its latest iteration, the sequester was part of the Budget Control Act, passed in 2011. The law required that automatic "across-the-board" reductions in spending, known as sequestration, take effect starting in 2013 if Congress did not pass a plan to reduce the deficit by at least $1.2 trillion. In addition to the sequester, the law cut spending by about $900 billion over 10 years, compared with what the Congressional Budget Office projected would be spent, by imposing discretionary spending caps from Fiscal Years 2012 to 2021.

While the sequester was effectively suspended in Fiscal 2014 and 2015, those hard-and-fast spending caps are revived starting on Oct. 1, absent a major legislative change in course.

While this may sound like a lot of procedural jargon to the taxpayer, it has serious ramifications for our troops and our national security. That is precisely why you will be hearing strong statements from the Pentagon and our military leaders about how an additional $38 billion sequester cut next year will harm our defense capabilities in an era of expanding threats.

Sequestration law needs change

Frankly, I agree and think that the law needs to be modified to avoid dramatic negative consequences to our ability to protect our homeland and our allies abroad.

But sequester did not create the existing security climate that reflects indecision, hesitation or ambivalence in our defense and foreign policy.

Sequester did not create ISIS. That depraved barbaric force grew as a result of our premature, politically motivated withdrawal from Iraq.

Sequester was not responsible for millions of refugees throughout the Middle East

Sequester had nothing to do with the president's public declaration that the United States is no longer on a "war footing."

Sequester has not allowed Vladimir Putin to ignite a new Cold War by ignoring the sovereignty of his neighbor and seizing Crimea and southeastern Ukraine.

Sequester did not lead us to "liberate" Libya and then turn our back while the country devolved into a dangerous breeding ground for terrorists.

Reduced manpower

Sequester did not reduce our Navy to the smallest number of ships in its recent history, create the oldest Air Force in its history or threaten to bring our Army's manpower down to pre-World War II levels.

While Congress should do everything it can to prevent the damaging effects of additional budget cuts under a sequester, we also have a responsibility to challenge the administration's mindset and approach to national security.

Yes, the administration owns these world crises. Indecision, hesitation and ambivalence toward our own military and our role as a world leader send powerful signals to the world, friends and foes alike.

 

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