Two House Republicans on Sunday questioned the morality of launching strikes against Syria while the U.S. military faces major funding cuts under the process called sequestration.
“I’m concerned about the morality of sending troops into harm’s way without the equipment they need,” said Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., chairman of the House Armed Services Committee.
On CNN’s “State of the Union” program, McKeon said he had asked for a meeting with President Obama on sequester before Congress votes on Obama’s request for authorization to launch attacks on Syria for the alleged use of chemical weapons by the regime of President Bashar al-Assad.
“If we can fix [sequester], it may help with votes” for authorization, said McKeon, who is leaning against action in Syria.
Rep. Marsha Blackburn, R-Tenn., joined McKeon on CNN in citing sequester as a factor in her opposition to attacking Syria.
“It is immoral to continue to ask the men and women of our military to go out without the equipment, the training, the readiness, the funds,” she said.
On the same TV program, Rep. Jim McGovern, D-Mass., said the main reason he opposed strikes on Syria was to keep the U.S. out of a civil war in the Mideast. He said that arguments about sequester and military funding were spurious.
“It’s not about rejuvenating the military,” McGovern said.
Pentagon officials have also rejected charges that the sequester process, which is projected to cut military funding by $1 trillion through 2020, had left the military incapable of carrying out missions ordered by Obama.
At a Pentagon news conference last Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said that costs were not a factor in the military’s planning for Syria.
“If this operation goes forward, if we're asked by the president to conduct a military mission, we will conduct it. When something is that important, we'll find a way to pay for it,” Little said.
Earlier Thursday, Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations, raised the possibility that the Pentagon might have to go to Congress to seek a “supplemental” bill to pay for action in Syria.
“A supplemental might be the order of the day,” Greenert said at an American Enterprise Institute forum.
Greenert echoed White House officials and Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel in stressing that Middle East operations and the sequester process would not alter the U.S. commitment to rebalancing forces to the Pacific.
However, Greenert said so called Pacific pivot would be slowed down by the budget, and Mideast operations might “put a hitch in it.”