Portman wants more flexibility with defense cuts

U.S. Sen. Rob Portman met with Wright-Patterson command leaders Monday and called for giving the Pentagon more flexibility over where defense spending cuts could hit starting March 1.

Spending must be pared, said Portman, R-Ohio, but “it needs to be done with flexibility so that we can prioritize programs that are the most important and not do it with a meat cleaver, but rather with a scalpel.”

Air Force Materiel Command commander Gen. Janet Wolfenbarger, 88th Air Base Wing commander Col. Cassie B. Barlow, and Air Force Research Laboratory officials met with Portman Monday on base.

Barlow said Monday military leaders would like to see fewer cuts directed at operations and maintenance and more evenly spread across the budget.

“There are certain ways with flexibility Wright-Patterson could deal with this in a much more logical way and also would be much more helpful to the civilian employees,” Portman said. “The president ought to be asking Congress for flexibility, and if the president doesn’t ask, the Congress should provide it.”

In a statement Monday, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio, said he backed a Senate proposal to mix spending cuts with increased revenue to replace the sequester while protecting Medicare and the jobs of government employees such as teachers and first responders, among other concerns.

“Political stalemate is not a national security strategy and this is no way to deal with our deficit problems,” Brown said.

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