Sequestration: Luke should be off-limits

U.S. Congressman Trent Franks

U.S. Congressman Trent Franks

Having been in public service for roughly 30 years of my life, witnessing political posturing is not exactly a new phenomenon. But the recent back-and-forth over President Obama’s sequester, including the failure to reach an agreement before the March 1 deadline, has taken the worst aspects of bureaucracy to absurd new heights.

Indeed, the federal government has, at this point, become essentially a parody of itself. So inefficient and ineffective has the budgeting process become that the federal government has, for months, been scrambling to find some way to undo its own work.

A crash course was charted, autopilot was enabled, and we are now somehow shocked to find ourselves arriving at our destination.

The most disgraceful aspect of the sequester that Mr. Obama insisted be included in the Budget Control Act back in 2011 is that we are breaking faith with the nation’s best and brightest — those who signed on a dotted line that they were willing to make the ultimate sacrifice for this country. And now, they will bear an unnecessary burden thanks to an executive who has put ideology and politics above all else.

The irresponsible method of these arbitrary cuts to our national defense has literally put troops’ body armor and missile defense on the same levels as excess color copies and lawn mowing services. And both Luke Air Force Base, and the state of Arizona, as a whole, will soon feel the effects, unless an agreement is reached on either one of the two plans House Republicans have offered to solve sequestration, or some other, as-yet-unintroduced plan.

Among those effects will be decreases in flight hours, a reduction in weapons sustainment, and furloughs of as many as 3,100 personnel in the state, resulting in nearly $24 million in lost pay.

This is, of course, why many members of Congress, myself included, voted against the poorly conceived (to put it mildly) Sequestration plan. And it’s why I have worked to ensure we do everything possible to prevent the damaging effect the cuts will have on our armed forces.

Among those efforts was my vote today on a Continuing Resolution that would take the important step of at least giving the military flexibility to determine how and where the cuts are made, thereby alleviating some of the pain caused by the cuts’ thoughtless, arbitrary nature.

But, as partisan as it may sound, the unfortunate fact of the matter is when dealing with a second-term ideologue President whose administration has now sunk to the level of literally releasing detained criminals and blaming it on sequestration, reasonable discourse has never been an option, making a permanent solution that much more difficult to attain.

Luke Air Force Base trains the best pilots in the world and serves as an indispensible component in our overall fighting force. Speaking as one of the most fiscally conservative members of Congress, there are many, many government programs that need to be cut in order to get our deficit under control. But Luke Air Force Base, and the vital funding that makes our military the greatest in the world, should be off-limits.

Going forward, I intend to continue working with my colleagues in the House toward the ultimate goal of a plan that is both sensible and fulfills one of Congress’ most fundamental Constitutional duties, as outlined in Article 1, Section 8 – ensuring America’s armed forces have every resource they need to continue serving as the standard by which all others are judged.

Leave a Reply