Syrian Crisis and Spending Priorities

Blog Post
Wednesday, September 18, 2013

While a bill authorizing military action against Syria has been put on hold while diplomatic options are pursued, that country’s use of chemical weapons has raised additional questions about the impact of the budget sequester on the U.S. military.

Some members of Congress, including House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), have suggested lifting the sequester on defense spending to be able to pay for military action in Syria while avoiding deeper cuts elsewhere in the defense budget.

But other lawmakers have been skeptical of tying the issues of Syria and defense sequestration together. That includes Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.), who called sequestration “a much broader issue.”

Democratic elected officials also object to the Republican proposal to cut domestic discretionary spending below the budget caps in order to raise spending on defense while still maintaining the overall cap.

The sequester cuts in both defense and domestic spending were poorly designed and took effect only because a congressional “super committee” failed to come up with a more reasonable plan. The Concord Coalition has long argued that if Congress replaces the sequester, it should do so with measures that retain the same overall level of deficit reduction.