Carl Levin (D-Mich.) is chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee. Bob Gates is the secretary of defense and has just released a Pentagon budget proposal that cuts, guts or obstructs many of the most expensive, entrenched and criticized weapons programs and systems the department operates. You’d think Levin would have an opinion on that. But not yet.
Staffers for Levin say their boss is in Michigan and they haven’t heard from him about the budget. I keep asking for a statement on it and keep hearing that there isn’t one yet. Sure, it’s a congressional recess. But it still seems a bit conspicuous, given that Levin’s House counterpart, Rep. Ike Skelton (D-Mo.) made his feelings known pretty much immediately after Gates unveiled his budget yesterday afternoon. Levin’s GOP opposite on the Senate committee, John McCain (R-Ariz.), had this to say yesterday:
“I strongly support Secretary Gates’ decision to restructure a number of major defense programs. It has long been necessary to shift spending away from weapon systems plagued by scheduling and cost overruns to ones that strike the correct balance between the needs of our deployed forces and the requirements for meeting the emerging threats of tomorrow,” said Senator John McCain. “Today’s announcement is a major step in the right direction. I believe Secretary Gates’ decision is key to ensuring that the defense establishment closes the gap between the way it supports current operations and the way it prepares for future conventional threats.
“I also greatly appreciate that Secretary Gates continues to place the highest priority on supporting the men and women of the U.S. Armed Forces.”
Perhaps, then, McCain might take it personally that Sen. James Inhofe (R-Okla.) is saying the budget “disarms America.” Still, I await Levin’s perspective.