"We see those savings coming on the defense side," said Gene Sperling, the director of the White House National Economic Council.
Sperling acknowledged, though, that Republicans "might make (the) case" that other types of spending considered security-related should be cut first.
The Defense Department's budget amounts to about 80 percent of the "defense and security" spending category. The deficit-cutting deal doesn't specify whether the reductions must come in the same proportion.
The expanded "defense and security" category applies only to the first round of budget cuts anticipated as part of the deficit-reduction deal.
The next round of up to $1.5 trillion in savings doesn't lump defense and broader security spending together. If a "super-committee" of 12 lawmakers can't amass a majority to recommend that much in cuts for Congress to consider in up-or-down, no-amendment votes, then the law mandates across-the-board cuts of $1.2 trillion over 10 years, with half of that explicitly from the Pentagon.
There's a political reason for this. It gives defense hawks an extra reason to avoid the across-the-board cuts by cooperating with the super-committee in spreading the pain around more broadly, and thus is a big incentive for lawmakers to compromise — and spare the Pentagon.
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