As the holiday season approaches, so does the start of the Republican-run 114th Congress. Here are a few things GOP members have on their wish lists for the new session.
Issue: Sequester Suffocation
GOP wish: The Pentagon’s portion of the remaining years of the across-the-board budget cuts, that is. Led by incoming Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) Chairman Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., GOP hawks are talking about finally doing something about the evils of the sequester, which they claim is making the US military unprepared for a whole slew of potential fights and missions. McCain says addressing sequestration is the top priority of his SASC reign.
Outlook: If only it were that easy. McCain and Co. are joined in their concerns about the impact the cuts are having on America’s fighting force by enough Republicans and Democrats in both chambers to significantly lessen them or get rid of them altogether. That has been the case since they first went into effect. The problem, even with a slim GOP Senate majority, remains: The two parties still disagree on the pieces of a big fiscal deal that would address the defense cuts. House Armed Services Committee (HASC) Chairman-elect Rep. Mac Thornberry, R-Texas, is more clear-eyed, telling CongressWatch this month that the “Armed Services Committee[s] cannot solve that issue.” His approach: “Working with others, we’re going to do our best to try and solve it.” The best-case scenario might be another measure that provides a couple years of relief.
Issue: Acquisition Action
GOP wish: Could 2015 finally be the year of Pentagon acquisition reform? McCain and Thornberry sure hope so. The latter is wrapping a major HASC study on what’s broken and how to fix it; the former is zeroing in on measures such as banning cost-plus contracts and building greater accountability into the system. Add in President Barack Obama’s defense secretary nominee, former Pentagon acquisition chief Ash Carter, and Republican members say the political moons are aligning in favor of reform.