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UPDATE: McKeon calls to halt for military cuts

House Armed Services Committee chairman outlines plan

Posted: March 14, 2012 12:09 p.m.
Updated: March 14, 2012 5:12 p.m.


SIMI VALLEY — Congressman Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Santa Clarita, harkened back to the time of military might under President Ronald Reagan and warned Wednesday against pending cuts to military spending.

The chairman of the House Armed Services Committee delivered a formal response to President Obama’s proposed military cuts for the next fiscal year during his speech at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library that repeatedly mentioned Reagan.

McKeon unveiled a “three-pillared philosophy” for “revitalizing our military forces.”

His plan calls for resolving legislated future cuts to military spending under sequestration, reversing military cuts that have been made, then restoring and rebuilding America’s military.

Congress must give the armed forces “the tools they need to win the current war and deter future wars,” McKeon said.

McKeon criticized President Obama’s intention to cut military spending, calling “America’s 21st century strategic outlook” a “tangled mess.”

“A senior military leader recently told me, ‘In 37 years of service, I have never seen a time as dangerous as today,’” McKeon told the 100 attendees.

McKeon then took aim at the slashed budget his House Armed Services Committee received for the fiscal year 2013.

He translated a $43 billion budget cut to mean 23 ships cut from the U.S. Navy, 150 cargo planes cut from the U.S. Air Force and cuts a “whopping” 80,000 soldiers and 20,000 Marines.

“Instead of coming home to ticker tapes, these brave men and women will come home to pink slips,” he said. “Instead of marching in victory parades, they will stand in unemployment lines.”

From the larger-than-life statue of the former president by the library doors, cowboy hat in hand, to the slide show of trivia questions about his life flashed on big screens flanking the podium, the legacy of Ronald Reagan was inescapable at McKeon’s speech Wednesday.

The seated audience, peppered with military uniforms, waited in hushed anticipation for the congressman to enter the room. At 10 a.m., a flourish of camera shutters ushered him to the podium.

McKeon opened his speech with a reference to Reagan campaigning against Walter Mondale.

“You can’t help but to think about President Reagan here,” he said, comparing the mood of today’s electorate to the mood 35 years ago.




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