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Blunt, McCaskill Step Up Concerns About Proposed National Guard Cuts

Credit Mo. National Guard, via Flickr/M. Queiser

Missouri’s two U.S. senators – Republican Roy Blunt and Democrat Claire McCaskill – are joining forces as they raise concerns about the Defense Department’s proposed cuts in spending for the National Guard.

The trims would have a $34 million economic impact on Missouri through 2016, Blunt told reporters Thursday. The reduced spending would primarily affect Guard operations in Springfield, Warrensburg and St. Joseph, he said.

Blunt questioned whether it was wise to cut National Guard at all, considering the Defense Department’s plan to reduce the number of full-time personnel. “It would seem to me, if you are going to cut the full-time force, you should actually be thinking about increases in the Reserves and the Guard, instead of cutting the force everywhere,’’ he said.

McCaskill made a similar argument in an early telephone interview this week.  “We have to be careful about making a mistake” and making a cut “that hobbles our ability’’ to protect the nation, she said.

McCaskill and Blunt both sit on the Senate Armed Services Committee. She also heads a special panel that has been looking into defense contracting and ways to save money. McCaskill also told reporters that there was waste in military spending and some cuts could be made without hurting the nation’s defense capabilities.

McCaskill and Blunt are among several senators who have co-signed a letter to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, in which they ask the Pentagon to reconsider the Guard cuts.

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Jo Mannies has been covering Missouri politics and government for almost four decades, much of that time as a reporter and columnist at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. She was the first woman to cover St. Louis City Hall, was the newspaper’s second woman sportswriter in its history, and spent four years in the Post-Dispatch Washington Bureau. She joined the St. Louis Beacon in 2009. She has won several local, regional and national awards, and has covered every president since Jimmy Carter. She scared fellow first-graders in the late 1950s when she showed them how close Alaska was to Russia and met Richard M. Nixon when she was in high school. She graduated from Valparaiso University in northwest Indiana, and was the daughter of a high school basketball coach. She is married and has two grown children, both lawyers. She’s a history and movie buff, cultivates a massive flower garden, and bakes banana bread regularly for her colleagues.
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