Turner calls for House vote to repeal defense spending cuts

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton

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U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton

A Dayton congressman says he’s lobbying House Speaker Paul Ryan to have a vote to repeal sequestration which has imposed automatic defense budget cuts.

U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, said he has gathered more than 100 congressional lawmakers’ signatures to send a letter to Ryan asking for a vote on the floor of the House to repeal the budget reductions.

“We must end these harmful and senseless budget tactics,” Turner, chairman of the Tactical Air and Land Forces subcommittee, said in a statement Wednesday.

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In a speech Tuesday night, President Donald Trump called for an end to the defense budget sequester. The Trump administration proposed a $54 billion increase in defense spending in fiscal year 2018, reports say, which would bring total defense spending to $603 billion.

Turner, however, has criticized the spending proposal as “fake budgeting” because it’s less than the amount defense hawks say is necessary to restore military readiness levels eroded by budget cuts and continual military deployments in recent years.

Turner — and other Republicans — have contended a $640 billion defense budget top line is needed.

“This budget is not Trump’s ‘rebuild the military’ budget and I hope the White House understands that,” Turner said in an interview. “I don’t know who put it together, we haven’t seen its final numbers which will come out in three weeks, but these numbers would basically be just a continuation of the Obama administration level of spending on defense.”

The Trump administration’s latest defense spending plan is 3 percent beyond the levels the Obama administration had proposed.

“The new administration claiming a 10 percent increase that’s really a 3 percent increase is fake budgeting,” Turner said in a statement Monday.

“Our military readiness has suffered immensely over the past eight years due to stringent budget cuts,” the congressman said. “It is imperative we can make a real attempt to reverse dangerous trends in defense spending. I hope the administration will be able to come to the negotiating table in a meaningful way to support our armed forces and to protect our interests at home and abroad.”

Sequestration, or automatic spending reductions, was enacted under the federal Budget Control Act of 2011.

Defense Department spending was frozen at current levels this fiscal year under a continuing resolution. Lawmakers must enact a spending bill before the resolution expires to avoid a partial government shutdown in late April.

Staff writer Jessica Wehrman of the Washington bureau contributed to this report.

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