Providing for our national security is one of the highest priorities we have as U.S. Senators.  In fact, providing “for the common Defense” is one of the limited powers granted to Congress by the Constitution.  We have seen how destructive the across the board cuts have been for our military in 2013.  We are on a path to a hollow force and a weaker national defense, which is something no Senator desires.  

For these reasons, and others, I voted against the Budget Control Act and have worked to turn off sequestration and find cuts in a more responsible manner.  Simply put, sequestration is a terrible way to cut spending. However, the Budget Control Act, and sequestration, are law, and will remain so until Congress and the President act to replace the cuts required under sequestration.

The Senate should play a key roll in shaping the savings that will take place under sequester, and should be doing so now, not when we are weeks or days away from another pending sequester. Waiting will only send us into a spiral of furloughs, plane groundings, program delays, and training and readiness reductions that we saw earlier this year.

I have spoken to many commanders in the past months about sequestration.  While they were unanimous in their criticism of sequestration, they also told me that their ability to handle it would have been increased if they had more time to prepare.  To give them more time for preparation, we should be authorizing to levels that are current law, not what we wish they could be. 

This authorization asks for a report from DOD on how they would handle sequester cuts in fiscal year 2014.  I hope that this report comes soon, but this sequester report should have been in the Defense Budget delivered earlier this year. 

I criticized President Obama and Secretary Hagel for submitting a Defense budget this year that did not take the possibility of sequestration into consideration.  In that same light, I am unable to support the authorization levels in this bill.

I am confident that I can work with my colleagues to find a solution to sequestration through targeted, responsible spending cuts.  But in the meantime, I hope we are working together to find targeted cuts in Defense that will allow us to operate within the constraints of current law and minimize the impact to national security.