Senate Begins Debate on Defense Authorization Bill

Sequestration took front stage as the Senate began debating the more than $600 billion Fiscal 2014 defense authorization bill bill Monday night. Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.), ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the across-the-board spending cuts are “exacerbating an already-declining national security budget,” reported Stars and Stripes. Inhofe said the cuts are “so unacceptably low” that all four service chiefs are calling them “life-threatening.” However, other senior Republican leaders have vowed to maintain the cuts as a way to tackle the country’s mounting national debt. Inhofe said Monday he planned to introduce an amendment that would delay implementation of the cuts for several years—a move he acknowledged would “not fix sequestration” but may undo some of the “damage being done to our military,” reported the paper. The White House agrees with the Senate in “a number of areas,” though the Administration also has some “serious concerns with certain provisions,” according to a Nov. 18 statement of policy. Among those areas of concern, was language in the proposed legislation that could affect future BRAC initiatives, reductions in research and development funding, as well as funding limitations on the planned realignment of marines in the Asia-Pacific.