It’s McCain Versus Inhofe Over Budget Cuts

Photograph by J. Scott Applewhite/AP Photo

Senate Armed Services Committee members, from left, Sen. John McCain, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, Sen. Deb Fischer, and Sen. Lindsey Graham gather on Capitol Hill in Washington, Feb. 12, 2013, prior to the committee’s hearing on the looming cuts to the defense budget that could be part of the sequestration.

From Bloomberg Government’s Congress Tracker blog

Arizona Republican John McCain is attempting to torpedo a sequester proposal by his successor as the ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee.

McCain said in an interview that he is working with New Hampshire’s Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham of South Carolina on a plan to replace the $85 billion in scheduled cuts with reductions in federal workers and other changes.

The plan is aimed at supplanting a competing proposal by Oklahoma’s James Inhofe — who succeeded McCain this year as the top Republican on Armed Services — that would give the Defense Department more power to move money around within its budget so it could live more easily with the coming sequester.

McCain said that would amount to giving up the power of the purse, which the administration could use to undermine the fiscal 2013 defense authorization bill that President Barack Obama signed last month. “In the name of moving funds around, you can make policy decisions which would be directly counter to the National Defense Authorization Act,” he said. “I’m not prepared to give over to the executive branch all the responsibilities of the legislative branch.”

Majority Leader Harry Reid said lawmakers will consider this week two competing sequester proposals — one from each party. Democrats want to replace the cuts with a combination of tax increases on the wealthy and cuts in farm subsidies and defense spending. Republicans haven’t settled on a single proposal.

“What is permitted to come up for a vote, and when, is not yet fully finalized,”said Inhofe spokeswoman Donelle Harder.

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