“I don’t want to get too technical, but in January our intention is, if we don’t fix it in the lame duck, is to fix it retroactively once a new session of Congress takes place,” Ryan said in response to a question posed at a roundtable discussion at a defense-related nonprofit organization not far from Fort Bragg.
“Now, we believe that we have a procedural way in the Senate to advance that legislation very quickly and get it to the next president of the United States — who I believe is going to be Mitt Romney — to pass it into law and retroactively prevent that sequester from taking place in January,” Ryan continued.
Ryan was referring to legislation passed by the Republican-led House in May that would replace the Defense Department cuts with reductions to food stamps and an array of other programs. The measure passed the House with the support of 218 Republicans and no Democrats.
The scenario sketched out by Ryan would appear to hinge on Republicans holding the House, winning the White House and retaking control of the Senate.
Even so, it’s unclear how such a move to “retroactively” restore the defense funding might work. The across-the-board cuts are part of a $1.2 trillion trim to both defense and non-defense spending over the next decade set to take effect in early January if Congress doesn’t act. The cuts were set into motion by last summer’s debt-ceiling deal, which Ryan voted for.
If the GOP ticket wins in November, Romney and Ryan would not take office until Jan. 21, after the first round of cuts are made.
“The Romney-Ryan ticket is dedicated to protecting America’s economy and national security from the impact of President Obama’s devastating defense cuts. If the President will not lead on this issue before January, we will,” Romney campaign spokeswoman Amanda Henneberg said in a statement.
Earlier at the roundtable, Ryan, who had aimed to hammer Democrats for the looming automatic defense cuts, appeared to get caught off guard when an attendee asked him about recent remarks made by Army Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, regarding criticism of President Obama by a group of Special Operations Forces veterans.
In a question-and-answer session before a crowd of about 100 people at the Partnership for Defense Innovation, about 10 miles down the road from Fort Bragg, Ryan was asked by a woman in the crowd, “Can you tell me what the response of the campaign will be concerning the comments of Gen. Dempsey?”