The GOP split between Tea Party members and defense stalwarts is something we've covered inch by inch since the November elections. So far, no senior Republicans who are members of either the House or Senate armed service committees had spoken out in favor of cutting the defense budget.
Now the dam has broken with Sen. Jeff Sessions, veteran member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, speaking out.
But my colleague Jen DiMascio at Politico got Sessions to go on the record supporting defense cuts.
"Following calls by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) to put the defense budget 'on the table' for cuts, Sessions, a veteran member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, is burnishing his credentials as ranking Republican on the Senate Budget Committee, and even he says it’s time for the Pentagon to trim its sails.
"'Nothing is immune,' Sessions told POLITICO. 'Defense will take some reductions.'" Sessions views carry weight. He is a senior member of the strategic forces subcommittee, hails from the would-be airborne tanker state and is a member of the Judiciary Committee's terrorism and homeland security panel. And, of most immediate interest, he was named yesterday as ranking member of the Senate Budget Committee, meaning he is the Republican in charge of trying to set the congressional budget ceiling for the federal government. While his post is not nearly as powerful as is his colleague Rep. Paul Ryan, chairman of the House Budget Committee, Sessions will wield significant moral and political authority on defense issues given his long service on the SASC and his post as the top GOP budget member.