(CNSNews.com) – Congress should cut U.S. military spending by $160 billion, Rep. Barney Frank (D-Mass.), chairman of the House Financial Services Committee, proposed at a press conference Tuesday.
That same day, however, House Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), who controls the House floor schedule, distanced himself and the majority leadership from Frank’s proposal -- and both the chairman and ranking member of the Senate Committee on Armed Services declined to endorse Frank’s plan.
“It’s absurd to talk about reducing the deficit while giving a pass to the military budget,” Frank told reporters. “We can reduce military spending without in any way undercutting our national security.”
Frank’s plan, according to a document released by his office, would reduce military spending by a total of $160 billion, with $100 billion of the savings coming from money currently being spent on the Iraq War. Other cuts would include a reduction of about 75 percent in the funding requested by the Bush administration for “nuclear forces,” as well as deep funding cuts for the development of controversial weapon systems, including a tilt-rotor aircraft (V-22 Osprey) and stealth fighter jet (F/A-22 Raptor.)
For fiscal year 2008, President Bush requested $481.4 billion for Defense Department spending and an additional $145.2 billion to fund the “global war on terror,” which he requested as emergency supplemental spending.
“No one is denying that America should be by far the strongest country in the world,” said Frank. “But we are talking about by how many multiples we have to be the strongest nation in the world, and whether or not there is some money to be saved in doing that.”
When asked whether the House leadership supported Frank’s plan, Hoyer said, “No,”
“That’s Mr. Frank’s opinion,” Hoyer told CNSNews.com. “Mr. Frank is one of our most able members. He has had similar proposals over the years. It’s not a new proposal of his.”
“I believe there are major threats that continue to be opposed to the safety and security of our country and our citizens,” said Hoyer. “Chairman Frank’s views are his views and do not reflect any leadership position on this issue.”
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also told CNSNews.com that he does not support Frank’s proposal.
“Of course not,” McCain told CNSNews.com in reference to Frank’s plan. “We need acquisition reform, but we cannot afford to cut the budget. We have two wars going on.”
Sen. Carl Levin (D-Mich.), chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, told CNSNews.com that he was unfamiliar with Frank’s proposal but said he would consider some cuts in the military budget as well as some additions.
“I have not seen the plan but it depends where the cuts will be made,” Levin said. “I am sure there are some places where I will support cuts in the budget. There always are, but I cant tell you before I see the plan. There also will probably be some places where I support increases.”