In a speech last November Buck McKeon, newly minted Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee (HASC), said that a "defense budget in decline portends an America in decline."
Now that Republicans have control of the House, it's looking like McKeon will work to prevent that decline. After a realignment of the influential Armed Services committee, the Republican from California's 25th Congressional district has set his sights on President Obama's proposed defense reductions. Those cuts account for $78 billion dollars, a drop of water in the bucket of federal largess, but--if implemented--will have a sweeping impact on force readiness, our wider defense posture, and numerical end strength.
McKeon, in his oversight plan, doesn't appear to contradict Secretary Gates on the need to rein in costly defense programs. But the congressman's approach is more nuanced, focusing on increased oversight of needed weapon systems instead of cutting them outright. And he's laid out a strong case for "clean" defense bills, one that focus on delivering capability to the warfighter instead of social experiments like DADT repeal, hate crime legislation, and immigration issues.
In 2009, Secretary Gates cut a wide swath of badly needed modernization programs while federal domestic spending exploded. Now that the GOP is back in power, McKeon and other HASC members have sent a clear signal to the White House: if you want to save money, look elsewhere.