Congressman Joe Wilson fought for a bill in the U.S. House to divert a massive defense budget cut set for the first of the year. The $600 million dollars defense spending cuts were triggered by a joint congressional supercommittee’s failure to reach a deal to cut federal spending.
Rep. Wilson and fellow Republicans are now facing criticism that they cut funding to programs that serve the poor in order to protect the military. The bill, H.R. 5652, which is called the “Sequester Replacement Act,” would reduce some of the cuts to defense by instead cutting from social program block grants. Wilson says the money will come from reducing the automatic growth of some programs.
“It’s additional costs. The actual reduction is from an anticipated 125-percent increase in costs to a reduction to 123-percent…a minimal reduction but a lot of money,”says Wilson.
But the house bill is likely to fail in the Senate.
“I’m very concerned that the Senate is simply not functional,” says Wilson. “Any legislation that could be perceived as controversial doesn’t even get to a vote.”
Congressman James Clyburn, a Democratic leader who served on the supercommittee, says Congress is more likely to take up this issue after the upcoming General Election.
“What we are going to see in November after the elections is the mother of all lame ducks,” Clyburn told MSNBC Monday. “I do believe that so much of this will be worked out in a lame duck session. I know that a lot of things are on the table. I don;t believe that we’ll fix sequester for 10 years; we might do a one-year fix.”
Clyburn says Congress will need that year to get the sequestration cuts worked out for the long term.