Tate Zeigler (202) 224-5972 or Kevin Bishop (864) 250-1417
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) made this statement on the letter sent by Republican leaders in the House and Senate to President Obama. The Republicans encouraged President Obama to work with them to prevent devastating sequestration cuts which are scheduled to go into effect in 2013.
"I am very supportive of and encouraged by Republican leaders in the House and Senate urging President Obama to deal with sequestration before the end of the fiscal year. I strongly encourage President Obama to meet this challenge.
"We have already committed to reducing defense spending by nearly $500 billion over ten years. The additional military spending cuts called for under sequestration would add another $600 billion on top of that figure. The net effect of this $1.1 trillion defense cut, in the words of Secretary of Defense Panetta, would destroy the finest military we've ever had.
"I will continue to work my colleagues to find a bipartisan solution to avoid the effects of sequestration for the upcoming fiscal year. We're working to find the necessary $109 billion to replace sequestration for defense and non-defense spending.
"I believe the best way forward is to follow the Simpson-Bowles roadmap where some of the $109 billion would be offset by increased fees and eliminating tax earmarks that only benefit the few at the expense of the many. However, the vast majority of the reductions would come from reducing the size of government. Tax rate increases are not necessary to solve this problem and will do damage to our economy.
"It remains imperative we find a bipartisan solution to this problem before the end of the fiscal year."
Text of the GOP Letter
July 13, 2012
President Barack Obama
The White House
1600 Pennsylvania Ave NW
Washington, DC 20500
Dear Mr. President:
On June 30 of this year, National Journal reported that your chief of staff, director of legislative affairs, and your senior advisor (who previously served as your campaign manager) recommended to the Senate Democratic leadership that they propose a six month delay in the sequester scheduled under current law to occur on January 2nd of next year.
If accurate, we are troubled that rather than engaging Congress in a constructive effort to identify and enact responsible savings to replace the across-the-board sequester, your senior staff appears to be suggesting a course of action that could actually be more harmful to our national security and domestic priorities.
The cuts to the non-defense sector will also be significant. The Bipartisan Policy Center recently found that many domestic programs will face across-the-board reductions in FY 2013 of close to 15 percent.
Last November Defense Secretary Panetta discussed the impact of the sequester on our Armed Forces stating that, "[t]he impacts of these cuts would be devastating for the Department." More colorfully and perhaps more accurately, last September Secretary Panetta stated that if sequestration were allowed to occur, "We'd be shooting ourselves in the head." Your own budget acknowledges these cuts would be "devastating."
As you are undoubtedly aware a delay would not reduce the $110 billion cut that is required under sequestration. In fact, such a delay would actually exacerbate the cut's impact since agencies would be forced to absorb the same cut in the three remaining months of the fiscal year rather than over nine months. Other than pushing sequestration farther away from this November's election it is difficult to understand what benefit would be derived from a six month delay.
Even though the Administration has yet to put forward a plan to address this issue, the House of Representatives took responsible action in May by passing legislation that would replace the 2013 sequester with other common-sense spending reductions and reforms. A group of Senate Republicans has introduced a bill to replace the 2013 sequester with savings attributed to extending the current federal pay freeze for 18 months and reducing the federal workforce through attrition. Your Administration has not commented on the Senate bill and issued a statement saying that your senior advisors would recommend that you veto the House proposal, citing in part your desire for economically damaging tax increases.
The sequester will have a significant impact on our national security and other domestic programs - such as medical research and special education - and yet the White House is now holding our troops and other important programs hostage in order to foist tax increases on small businesses, which have been routinely rejected by the House and Senate on a bipartisan basis.
Instead of ignoring the need to address this critical issue, we would respectfully request that you and your senior staff engage constructively with both parties to find common ground. To be clear, we stand ready to work with you to identify and enact common-sense savings necessary to replace the January 2013 sequester. Rather than proposing to simply put more space between this problem and the election or offering tax increase proposals that face bipartisan Congressional opposition, we hope you instead work with us to find a bipartisan solution before the end of the fiscal year.