The second-ranking Senate Republican said Tuesday that President Barack Obama insisted on potential defense cuts in the debt-limit bill that amounted to the "knowing destruction of the U.S. military."
Despite his fears about the bill, Sen. Jon Kyl of Arizona voted for the legislation to raise the nation's debt limit and avert a government default. Congress cleared the bill Tuesday and sent it to Obama, who signed it into law.
The bill calls for cuts of $350 billion in defense spending over 10 years. However, if a special House-Senate committee cannot agree on a deficit-reduction plan by year's end or Congress rejects its proposal, it would trigger some $500 billion in additional reductions in projected military spending.
"Can you imagine anything more irresponsible than for the commander in chief of the military to promote, not just promote, but insist on the knowing destruction of the U.S. military as a means to threaten Congress?" Kyl asked in a speech on the Senate floor shortly before he voted for the legislation.
Although he backed the bill, Kyl said it came close to violating the oath of office for lawmakers as well as the president's responsibilities as commander in chief.
"We will need to work very hard to restore spending necessary for our national security and commit to reject the threat of Armageddon inserted into this bill by the White House," Kyl said.
Although several members of the congressional committees overseeing the military expressed reservations with the bill, they still backed the measure. Among them were the top senators on the Senate Armed Services Committee as well as leading defense hawks in the House.