Late last night, seven of our Marines were killed in Hawthorne, and many others were injured in an explosion during a training exercise near the ammunition depot in Hawthorne, Nevada. We don't know exactly what happened, but it was a violent explosion, we know that. My thoughts are with those who are injured and of course the families of those who lost loved ones, and Marines all over the world are now focusing on the loss of their fellow Marines. They are grieving this loss. Details are emerging. We really don't know, the area has been blocked off. As I indicated, it was quite a big explosion. ... It's very important we continue training our military, so important. But one of the things in sequester is we cut back in training and maintenance. That's the way sequester was written. Now, the bill that’s on the floor, we hope to pass today helps that a little bit. ... This sequester should go away. We have cut already huge amounts of money in deficit reduction. It's just not appropriate, Mr. President, that our military can't train and do the maintenance necessary. These men and women, our Marines were training there in Hawthorne. With this sequester, it's going to cut this stuff back. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/03/19/harry-reid-sequestration_n_2909706.html).
Republicans and at least one Marine official have jumped on the anti-Reid bandwagon over these comments. Was Mr. Reid politicizing the death of seven Marines? Let's look at the history of the sequestration to determine if he is trying to score political points on the backs of dead Marines.
This is a tweet from Mr. Reid:
@SenatorReid 28 Feb
It’s not too late to avert the damaging #sequester budget cuts, for which an overwhelming majority of Republicans voted
The following is a story from when the sequester was implemented that clearly shows that there was support for the Budget Control Act of 2011 that implemented the sequester but guess who else voted for it…. Times up…It was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid while his republican counterpart from Nevada voted against it. (http://politics.nytimes.com/congress/votes/112/senate/1/123)
While the White House and the Democrats have tried to paint the sequester as a Republican tool to force the Democrats to negotiate on the budget, the sequester was actually brought to the table by the President and his staff as a way to scare the Republicans into cutting defense spending. (See Politifact) However, after the 2012 elections, the Republicans call the bluff and here we are now, less than a month after the sequestration started and Harry Reid is talking about the evils of the budget cuts and via the tweet from February 28th, pointing the finger to the other side.
Yesterday’s actions by Mr. Reid may not rise to the level of actually tying the deaths of these Marines to the sequestration, as many news outlets have reported, they are very disingenuous and I do believe he is using the death of these Marines to move the discussion of sequestration fixes forward. He, however, is just as responsible for these budget cuts as every other senator and representative that allowed the Budget Control Act of 2011 to go into effect. And I will not mention the debate that led to the BCA that is a discussion for another day.
I would like to thank Trisha for allowing me to be a guest poster for this week.