Missouri’s two U.S. senators – Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Claire McCaskill – are joining forces as they raise concerns about the Defense Department’s proposed cuts in spending for the National Guard.
The trims would have a $34 million economic impact on Missouri through 2016, Blunt told reporters Thursday. The reduced spending would primarily affect Guard operations in Springfield, Warrensburg and St. Joseph, he said.
Blunt questioned whether it was wise to cut National Guard at all, considering the Defense Department’s plan to reduce the number of full-time personnel. “It would seem to me, if you are going to cut the full-time force, you should actually be thinking about increases in the Reserves and the Guard, instead of cutting the force everywhere,’’ he said.
McCaskill made a similar argument in an early telephone interview this week. “We have to be careful about making a mistake” and making a cut “that hobbles our ability’’ to protect the nation, she said.
McCaskill and Blunt both sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She also heads a special panel that has been looking into defense contracting and ways to save money. McCaskill also told reporters that there was waste in military spending and some cuts could be made without hurting the nation’s defense capabilities.
McCaskill and Blunt are among several senators who have co-signed a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in which they ask the Pentagon to reconsider the Guard cuts.