Rubio, Paul reflect GOP split on defense cuts

Republicans say the president’s call for more revenue is a nonstarter, and sound resigned to the idea that the sequester cuts would take effect in two weeks — whether they like it or not.

“It’s pretty clear to me that the sequester is going to go into effect,” Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, Kentucky Republican, said Tuesday. “Read my lips,” Mr. McConnell said, “I’m not interested in an eleventh-hour negotiation.”

Mr. Kelly said that could change in the coming weeks as the public becomes more familiar with the severity of the cuts. “The expectation is that the defense cuts are so bad that the Republicans will have to compromise [on revenue] and then” Mr. Obama and congressional Democrats will have to back off some of the defense cuts, he said. Republican lawmakers also want Democrats to accept entitlement reforms.

Some Republicans, though, say the sequester might be the only way to get Mr. Obama and Congress to swallow “real” spending cuts.

Rep. Mike Pompeo, Kansas Republican, said in a Politico forum Wednesday that voters will see the cuts as “a home run.”

“We’re doing what the American people asked the United States House of Representatives to do in 2010 when I came here. We’re reducing the size and scope of the federal government,” Mr. Pompeo said.

Rep. Steve Scalise, chairman of the conservative Republican Study Committee, told The Washington Times that “the only thing worse than the defense sequester is not to have the sequester at all.”

“It is the only way to show that we are serious about controlling spending,” said Mr. Scalise, Louisiana Republican. “We can’t kick this can down the road. It has been kicked down the road so many times that it barely resembles what it used to look like.”

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