Although firing a few cruise missiles at Syria would not put much of a dent in the defense budget, Concord Coalition Executive Director Robert L. Bixby said in an interview with Bloomberg BNA that the issue could lead members of Congress to reconsider sequestration.
“Going to the public and saying, ‘We're authorizing military action, and by the way we're cutting the military budget or we're going to shut down the government,' is a very inconsistent message,” Bixby said.
The Bloomberg story, “Military Strikes Against Syria Could Restart Sequester Debate,” noted that a Pentagon estimate that preventing the use or proliferation of chemical weapons in Syria could average more than $1 billion a month. The story by Cheryl Bolen, BNA’s White House reporter, also said Tomahawk cruise missiles cost about $1.4 million each.
The Syrian issue could “provide an opening for a discussion about sequester,” Bixby said. Both Democrats and Republicans have expressed concern about these “automatic” cuts, with Republicans particularly worried about the possible impact on the U.S. military.
Concord supports a broad, comprehensive budget agreement, but Bixby told BNA the sequester issue would not necessarily have to be resolved by elected officials through such an agreement. “They could do what they always do and find a few dollars here and there and kick the can down the road,” he said.