New GOP Sen. Deb Fischer of Nebraska signaled congressional Republicans will seek to void all pending cuts to planned Pentagon spending.
In the Republican's weekly address, Fischer called for permanently turning off $500 billion in across-the-board Pentagon cuts set to be triggered March 1. A deficit-reduction package of $1.2 trillion passed by both chambers and signed by President Obama would void those defense cuts and an equal amount of domestic cuts.
During her year-and-a-half campaign, Fischer said Americans she encountered shared one view: "Washington must cut out of control spending."
In a preview of coming talks about voiding those defense and domestic cuts and over raising the nation's borrowing limit, Fisher said Washington should instead cut domestic entitlement programs.
Fischer said she supports a smaller federal government that focuses primarily on the things specifically mentioned as its responsibilities by the Constitution. The top one, she said, is defending the nation.
The coming fight will pit guns versus butter, with pundits and sources predicting a nasty political slugfest.
"As a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, I’m 100 percent committed to both reducing spending and meeting my constitutional obligation to defend this nation," Fischer said.
"It is equally important to uphold America’s promises to active duty service members and veterans, those who have risked life-and-limb in defense of our nation," she said. "Keeping faith with these brave Americans is more than our responsibility; it is our honor to do so," she said.
President Obama already has announced military personnel programs would be exempt from the cuts, which would be carried out via a budgetary gimmick known inside the Beltway as "sequestration."
The new SASC member said programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid are most to blame for the nation's fiscal woes and massive debt — not defense spending.
Earlier this week, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said Obama wants to eliminate all the pending sequestration cuts.
But Carney reiterated the president's demand that a package to void them must include other federal cuts and new revenues. The latter has been called "a non-starter" by even some moderate GOP senators.
Fischer said the defense cuts, first set in stone by the 2011 Budget Control Act, are slated to take effect because some in Washington have poor priorities. She failed to note many of her now-GOP colleagues — joined by Democrats — in both chambers have twice voted for legislation that set the stage for those cuts.