By Todd Spangler
WASHINGTON – A couple of Republican congressmen from Michigan have signed on to a letter to party leaders and President Barack Obama urging that any spending deal to avoid the fiscal cliff include cuts to the nation’s defense budget.
U.S. Rep. Justin Amash, R-Cascade Township, posted the letter on his Facebook page this afternoon. U.S. Rep. Dan Benishek, R-Crystal Falls, also was among the 22 members of Congress – half Democrat, half Republican – signing on to the letter.
Amash, who like Benishek was just re-elected to a second term in office, had been on the House Budget Committee but has since lost that assignment after taking stands in opposition to Republican leadership. Last week, Amash noted that party leaders seemed to be against any spending cuts to defense.
Obama and House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, have been discussing how to find tax increases and spending cuts they can agree on that would avoid much higher tax increases and deeper spending cuts set to go into effect automatically at year’s end.
The letter’s authors said that while they have “serious concerns about the careless and arbitrary way” that the automatic cuts would affect the defense budget, “we support its general intent to improve our fiscal condition” and “believe that substantial defense savings can be achieved over the long-term without compromising national security.”
The letter pointed out that the Pentagon’s budget had increased dramatically over the last decade, due in large part to wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
“As we transition from wartime to peacetime, and as we confront our nation’s fiscal challenges, future defense budgets should reflect the conclusion of these wars and acknowledge that our modern military is able to approach conflicts utilizing fewer – but more advanced – resources,” the letter said.