On the first day lawmakers on the deficit reduction "super committee" met in public, one key Republican member, Jon Kyl of Arizona, announced that he would quit the panel if any further defense cuts were approved.
Kyl, the number two GOP leader in the Senate, saved his warning for a conservative audience on Capitol Hill Thursday, saying, "I'm off the committee if we're going to talk about further defense cuts."
The senator's concerns are backed by a number of Republicans, defense officials, and members of the military, who have said that the already-approved $350 billion in cuts, made recently by Congress in a deal to raise the nation's debt ceiling, were difficult enough to absorb.
Kyl's spokesman, Ryan Patmintra, characterized his boss' comments as a no-brainer for the hawkish senator, likening it to Democrats refusing to accept any cuts to "Obamacare," though no Democrat on the "super committee" has yet taken such a position in the context of his or her involvement on the panel.
In fact, panel co-chair Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash., said Thursday that she was "so glad that as we have gotten this process off the ground over the last few weeks, committee members have refrained from drawing lines in the sand or carving out areas that can't be touched."
The 12-member Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is tasked with finding at least $1.5 trillion in savings or face $1.2 trillion in mandatory cuts, equally divided among defense and non-security spending.
The later was designed to be an impetus for the panel to act, with members fearing painful consequences if they did not. But Congress can vote to abolish the triggered cuts, and Kyl said he would lead any effort to do so.