Sequester See Saw and Budget Battles

Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) said the European Reassurance Initiative should include a similar amount of funding to reassure Asia-Pacific allies confronting an increasingly accretive China. Forbes, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee’s seapower and projection forces panel, spoke at a budget forum shortly after a committee hearing on the President’s $59 billion overseas contingency response request, which looks to fund the initiative. Forbes also complained that the President’s defense budget deprives the military of the capability and capacity needed to execute the global strategy necessary to meet rising national security threats, including the proposed rebalance to Asia-Pacific. Asked about the services’ concerns that congressional refusal to cut force structure, such as the Air Force’s request to retire the A-10 attack jets, would deprive them of the funds needed to maintain combat readiness, Forbes conceded that was a “fair concern.” But he said the administration should have opposed the onset of sequestration, which has caused the funding conflicts. When asked by Todd Harrison, defense budget expert with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, the forum sponsor, if Congress would tackle raising revenues, controlling entitlement spending, and other government outlays to end sequestration, Forbes said that package was too complex to handle at once. He said each had to be handled sequentially, rather than in the “grand bargain” most budget analysts consider necessary.