The WasteWatcher: The Staff Blog of Citizens Against Government Waste

Sen. Harry Reid Hits a New Low

The WasteWatcher is the staff blog of Citizens Against Government Waste (CAGW) and the Council for Citizens Against Government Waste (CCAGW). For questions, contact blog@cagw.org.


On Monday evening, March 18, seven U.S. Marines from North Carolina were tragically killed in a training accident at Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada.  The next day, Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) took to the floor and said the following:

“…Late last night, seven of our marines were killed in Hawthorne, and many others were injured in an explosion during a training exercise near the ammunition depot in Hawthorne, NV.  We don't know exactly what happened, but we know it was a violent explosion.  My thoughts are with those who were injured and, of course, the families of those who lost loved ones. Marines all over the world are now focusing on the loss of their fellow marines.  They are grieving their loss. Details are emerging, but at this time we don't know everything.  The area has been blocked off.  As I indicated, it was quite a big explosion.  We will follow this news very closely.  I will do whatever I can going forward to support the U.S. military and the families of the fallen marines. It is very important we continue to train our military--it is so important--but one of the things that has happened due to the sequester is we have cut back on our training and maintenance.  That is the way the sequester was written.  The bill that is on the floor--we hope to pass today--helps that a little bit.  At least for the next 6 months it will allow the military some degree of ability to move things around a little bit.  We call it flexibility, which is good.  But we have to be very vigilant.  This sequester should go away. We have already cut huge amounts of money in deficit reduction, which is not appropriate. Our military cannot train and do the maintenance that is necessary.  These men and women are marines who are training in Hawthorne, and with the sequester, it is going to cut stuff back.  I hope everyone understands the sacrifices made by our military.  They make significant sacrifices by being away from home, their families, and their country.  The sequester needs to go away.”

Sen. Reid has received, and rightly so, much criticism for tying together this horrible accident and the sequester.  Off the record, as reported by Jim Miklaszewski of NBC news and Real Clear Politics, several Marines Corps officials are expressing outrage and have declared that budget cuts had nothing to do with the tragedy and that Senator Reid is engaging in pure political theater. Responding to the many critics concerning this sorry episode, Reid's spokeswoman stated, “In the wake of the Hawthorne tragedy, Senator Reid's thoughts are with the Marines who were killed or injured and their loved ones…the idea that Senator Reid thinks the Hawthorne tragedy has anything to do with the sequester is absurd and unsubstantiated by his remarks on the topic.  Marines would not be forced to operate under unsafe conditions due to budget cuts." So now the debate is whether Harry Reid meant to say what he said or he was misunderstood or it was a clumsy segue between two issues.  But in reality, the Obama administration, the president’s permanent campaign operation Organizing for Action, and politicians on Capitol Hill have looked for opportunities to blame the sequester for anything negative that may happen or are deliberately causing hardships.  (We wrote about the over-the-top hysterics here.)  Just recently, the White House said it may not hold the Easter egg roll due to the budget cuts.  Yet reading Keith Koffler's White House Dossier, apparently there has been no attempts by the White House to slow down on its numerous private parties, including two-days worth of St. Patty’s Day celebrations. Sen. Reid attempting to tie the deaths of these brave Marines to budget cuts is a new low, even for a politician. (H.T. Mark Levin)

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