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Republican leaders are dismissing charges that the party is fractured on national security issues following the overwhelming passage of a House GOP budget measure that fully restored recently slashed defense spending.
The House on Thursday approved by a vote of 228-191 a wide-ranging budget plan authored by Rep. Paul Ryan (R., Wis.). All but 10 Republicans voted in favor of the budget, while every Democrat voted against it.
The Ryan plan would allocate about $560.2 billion in defense spending in 2014. That appropriation would all but negate the effects of the recent sequester, which eradicated millions in defense spending and threw the Pentagon into chaos.
The allocation would prevent the Pentagon and United States military from being forced to implement a devastating series of cuts that would imperil not only troop readiness but also their benefits.
A similar budget proposal authored by the House’s deficit-conscious Republican Study Committee (RSC) also included this level of defense spending, leading Republican leaders to dismiss charges that the party is fundamentally split on such issues.
“The overwhelming conservative support for the Ryan budget and the RSC budget are the best indicators of where the Republican Party is on national security that I have seen in a while,” House Armed Services Committee chairman Howard “Buck” McKeon (R., Calif.) told the Free Beacon following the vote.
“After the saga of sequestration, we have come together as a party to declare that our military has been cut too much,” McKeon said. “By passing the House budget, we are making a restoration of vital national security resources a top policy priority, every bit as important as balancing the budget.”
House Republicans came under fire in the months before sequestration took effect for what media observers called their failure to show unity on national security.
Many newly elected Republicans who rode into Congress on the Tea Party wave have toed an anti-spending line that includes opposition to robust defense spending.
The country’s growing deficit demands a tough response, they argued.
McKeon admitted that Republicans had internal differences in February as debate over the impending sequester reached a fevered pitch.
“I know some of them are very wrong just as they know that I am very wrong,” McKeon told USA Today at the time. “It’s not all the freshman, we had other people who had been here a long time that have a feeling that the biggest problem we face is our deficit and our spending, and if we don’t get that under control, nothing else matters.”
Both Republican budget proposals have sought to maintain and bolster defense spending despite the contentious debate.
“With today’s passage of the House budget, it is clear: The House chose prosperity,” House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R., Calif.) said in a statement. “I applaud chairman Ryan and the entire House Budget Committee for putting forward a responsible budget so that we may begin the great American comeback.”
McKeon said a Democratic budget proposal that seeks to reinforce sequestration is a sign of that party’s apathy regarding defense issues.
A budget proposal offered by Senate Democrats seeks $240 billion in cuts to the Pentagon over the next 10 years, among additional cuts.
“I am disappointed that my Democratic colleagues chose to go the other way and propose still deeper cuts to defense,” McKeon said. “However you want to look at it, the contrast is clear; Republicans recognize that our troops have been cut too far and are willing to fight to get them the resources they need.”
“Democrats, who refuse to even touch broken entitlement programs or present a budget that will ever balance, continue to ask our troops to do more with less,” he said.