Senate Republicans emerging from their weekly caucus lunch said they were inspired by former Vice President Dick Cheney, who visited the Hill Tuesday afternoon to meet with Republican lawmakers to discuss how to avoid dramatic defense cuts next year.
“I think he really helped the cause today of people like me to try to find some energy and political will to avoid what I think is — you know we’re known for a lot of dumb things up here, but this sequestration concept was really the dumbest concept,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, South Carolina Republican.
House Republicans are set to vote this week on the 2013 Defense Appropriations bill, which ignores $500 billion in cuts scheduled to begin Jan. 1 if lawmakers don’t find a way to sidestep them. Both parties agreed to the cuts last summer to resolve a dispute over raising the debt ceiling that had left Congress gridlocked for weeks.
Mr. Graham said Mr. Cheney warned them that allowing the cuts to go forward would jeopardize the modernization and readiness of America’s military forces, weakening the country’s ability to deal with foreign threats.
And Sen. Kelly Ayotte, New Hampshire Republican, said Mr. Cheney told the lawmakers that the cuts would harm the defense department in the long-term.
“It’s not only the impact on today, it will have long-term impacts on the Department of Defense because you make the long-term investments, particularly on weapons programs,” she said.