Incoming Majority Leader Doesn’t Rule Out Defense Cuts in Republican-Led House of Representatives

By Matt Cover | January 5, 2011 | 6:00 AM EST

House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.)

Washington ( – Incoming House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said he would not rule out cuts to the Defense Department budget with Republicans in control of the House.

Cantor, speaking at his final news conference as Minority Whip on Tuesday, was asked if Republicans would propose cuts to the defense budget once the new Congress is sworn in. The designated number two Republican said that “everything” would be on the table.

“I think most of us have said everything is going to be on the table,” Cantor replied. “And we’re going to be about setting priorities.”

Cantor also said that while no budget area was off-limits, the Republican majority would be “focused” on national security.

“I think the Republican majority, as you would expect, is going to be a majority focused on national security as far as defense is concerned,” he said. “But everybody is going to have to do more with less. That is where the private sector is, that’s where families are, and that’s where this government’s got to be,” said Cantor.

When reminded by reporters that the House Republican pledge to cut $100 billion from the federal budget originally exempted defense and homeland security funding, Cantor repeated that nothing would be exempt from his party’s budgetary ax.

“You are correct in saying that the commitment to [cutting spending to] ’08 levels was non-security, non-defense related discretionary [spending], which produced the approximately $100 billion in savings in the first year,” Cantor said. “But my statement was this: Everything’s got to be on the table,” he said. “Everyone in this town must go through what people at home are doing, which is doing more with less and prioritizing what we should be about.”

Defense-related spending is the single largest area of discretionary spending, accounting for 19 percent of the entire $3.7 trillion in federal spending in 2010 – a total of $719 billion.

In the House Republicans’ original Pledge to America, the GOP said it would reduce non-defense and non-security spending by $100 billion during 2011.