Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., used news of the deaths of seven Marines at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada this morning to talk about how sequestration hurts the military, implying the deaths may have been related to training budget cuts.
The Marines, from Camp Lejune in North Carolina, were killed in a mortar explosion during a training exercise today.
Shortly after the explosion, Reid took to the Senate floor to offer his condolences, then implied the accident could be tied to a cut in the military’s budget for training and maintenance:
As I indicated, it was quite a big explosion. We’ll follow this news very closely. I will do whatever I can going forward to support the United States military and the families of the fallen Marines.
Mr. President, it’s very important we continue training our military, so important. But one of the things in sequester is we cut back in training and maintenance. That’s the way sequester was written. Now, the bill that’s on the floor, we hope to pass today helps that a little bit. At least in the next six months, it allows the military some degree of ability to move things around a little bit. Flexibility, we call it, and that’s good. But we have to be very vigilant. This sequester should go away. We have cut already huge amounts of money in deficit reduction. It’s just not appropriate, Mr. President, that our military can’t train and do the maintenance necessary.
These men and women, our Marines were training there in Hawthorne. And with this sequester, it’s going to cut back this stuff. I just hope everyone understands the sacrifices made by our military. They are significant, being away from home, away from families, away from their country.