WASHINGTON, Sept. 15 (UPI) -- A Republican congressman challenged U.S. President Obama Saturday to help avoid scheduled budget cuts he said would seriously weaken the nation's armed forces.
Delivering the GOP's weekly address, Rep. Allen West of Florida described the pending sequestration as a "dark cloud" that "hangs over our military," the Hill reported.
If the cuts go into effect as scheduled Jan. 2, the United States would be left with "the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest Navy since 1915, and the smallest tactical fighter force in the history of the modern United States Air Force," said West, a 22-year Army veteran.
He said violence in North Africa and the Middle East this week demonstrated the need for a strong military.
Accusing the president of a failure to lead, West challenged the president to accept a Republican proposal that would forestall the mandated slashes for all federal departments.
Republicans have rejected Democratic and administration proposals to reduce the deficit through a combination of spending cuts and tax increases on income over $250,000.
In a report issued Friday, the White House Office of Management and Budget said the cuts scheduled to take effect Jan.2 "would be deeply destructive to national security" and normal government function.
The report emphasized the administration had no discretion in deciding what programs would be cut, or by how much, and said the sequestration should not be permitted to occur.