With barely 48 hours to go before the $1.2 trillion in across-the-board cuts known as sequestration set in, a plan initially offered by Sen. Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) to permit the five service chiefs to make the required cuts began to take shape Tuesday night. But where Inhofe’s initial concept would permit the five service chiefs to decide where the defense-related cuts will be made in their individual services, the latest version—in which Inhofe was joined today by freshman Sen. Pat Toomey (R-Pa.)—would be much broader and allow cuts in domestic spending to be determined by the appropriate administrators of their government programs.
“There are any number of contrasts and comparisons you could make, but in my view, a government subsidy to Solyndra wouldn’t be as high a priority as maintaining air-traffic controllers,” Toomey told the Pittsburgh-Post Gazette late Tuesday.
Under rules laid down by Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.), the Republicans and Democrats in the Senate would be permitted to offer one plan each as an alternative to sequestration and each would get an up-or-down vote.
Inhofe told Human Events that he received a “very positive” reception from fellow Republican senators to his plan to give discretion in cuts to the service chiefs. But already, the Inhofe-Toomey measure has come under fire from Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who said it would surrender budget authority to the Obama White House.
On the House side, Rep. Tom Cole (R-Okla.) told us Tuesday morning that there was “sentiment for something like the [Inhofe-Toomey] plan that would give authority to administrators of programs to make the cuts. But there would also be appropriate oversight from the Appropriations Committee. We certainly aren’t going to give the Obama administration a blank check to make cuts.”
Cole also told us that “what has been most surprising to Democrats is how conservatives have held on to these cuts and how they have united the Republican Party. Sequestration by itself is a bad idea, but the amount of the cuts–$1.2 trillion over a ten year period—is a tiny step in the right direction. And what we’re finding is that, especially among the House Republicans elected in 2010 and last year—who are about half the Republican Members in the House—they won’t let the President or Wall Street bluff us out of supporting these cuts.”