McCain: I'd "swallow hard" on defense cuts

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., indicated on CBS' "The Early Show" Monday that he would vote for the deal struck between the White House and congressional leaders on extending the maximum amount of the federal government's borrowing authority, known as the debt ceiling, even if it meant having to "swallow hard" on cuts to defense spending.

"The important thing for us is to go ahead and get this thing done," the 2008 Republican presidential nominee told "Early Show" co-anchor Erica Hill.

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The deal announced Sunday night would increase the government's $14.3 trillion debt ceiling by more than $2 trillion, which is projected to last through 2012. The deal depends on approval from both houses of Congress before Tuesday's deadline, which is when the Treasury Department said the government will hit the debt ceiling.

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In exchange for raising the ceiling, a similar amount of spending cuts during the next 10 years would be put in place. That could include defense spending, which McCain said he didn't support.

"I wouldn't have put that in there," McCain told Hill. "I probably will have to swallow hard."

The first trillion in spending cuts would be enacted immediately. A congressional commission would also be charged with finding another $1.5 trillion in cuts by Thanksgiving. If the commission fails to do so, or Congress fails to approve more spending cuts after the commission makes its recommendations, Congress would then be required to vote on a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution.

If the amendment fails to receive congressional approval, such a situation would automatically trigger $1.2 trillion in spending cuts, which would impact the Pentagon budget. But McCain doubted Congress would find itself in such a situation.

"It won't come to that in that I believe that this select committee, they'll come up with some pretty good and viable solutions, I'm convinced," McCain told Hill. "I think both sides will put their best people on it and people with credibility."

  • Alex Sundby

    Alex Sundby is an associate news editor for CBSNews.com

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