WASHINGTON - House Armed Services Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon made the following statement today as prepared for delivery on the House floor regarding H.R. 6365 the National Security and Jobs Protection Act:"Mr. Speaker, I rise in strong support of the National Security and Jobs Protection Act offered by Mr. West, whom I have the pleasure of serving with on the Armed Services Committee. We all know that in less than 4 months, the automatic across-the-board cuts known as sequestration will go into full effect, significantly reducing funding for our national defense and vital domestic programs.
"Mr. West and members of our committee understand just how much these draconian cuts will undermine our constitutional obligation to provide for the common defense. They will result in the United States having the smallest Army since World War II, the smallest Navy since World War I and the smallest Air Force in U.S. history. That is why President Obama's own Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, has said the pending sequester is devastating and akin to shooting ourselves in the head.
"So the natural question is – what is our government doing to stop sequestration? On May 10, 2012, the United States House of Representatives passed a measured and responsible proposal to deal with this impending threat, H.R. 5652, the Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012. Yet, 126 days later the Senate has not acted. The President has not acted.
"Mr. Speaker, the House is prepared to work with the President and the Senate on alternatives to sequestration. We urge them to come to the table. That’s what Mr. West’s legislation does. Our Colleagues in the Senate tell the press that they are negotiating a deal. Well they have been talking about that for a year now. It is time to put something down on paper and get it passed. We must not allow the well being of our troops and our national security to be used as a bargaining chip in this debate.
"Just this week we were reminded at how unstable and dangerous our world is. The killing of Americans in Benghazi on the anniversary of Sep 11th is a reminder and a challenge to every member of this body that we must put our national security and our national interests first.
"As one senior military official recently told me, America’s inability to govern ourselves past sequestration plays directly into the hands of those who spread a narrative of American decline and will ultimately thrust us into a more dangerous world.
"This legislation will require President Obama to live up to his obligation as Commander-in-Chief and submit his alternative plan to replace sequestration, while encouraging the United States Senate to do the same. Let us also not forget that it was the President who put defense “squarely on the table” last summer in the negotiations for the Budget Control Act.
"Mr. Speaker, we are running out of time before the draconian cuts in sequestration take effect. There are 111 days remaining. We need to work together to find a solution. I urge members to vote yes on this legislation and I yield back."