Barney Frank Wants Senate Seat; Vows to Give Hagel Budget-Cutting Cover

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It’s an open secret the U.S. defense sector would celebrate a return to the Senate by Scott Brown. Just following the campaign cash shows that. Officially, Brown says he’s mulling whether to seek the seat that is expected to be vacated if Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., is confirmed soon as secretary of state.

But the defense sector will have to wait several months for a special election for a return of perhaps its favorite senator from a traditionally liberal-leaning northeastern state. And, in the meantime, Kerry’s seat could be filled by a longtime thorn in its side: former liberal firebrand Rep. Barney Frank.

After initially balking, Frank now is openly campaigning to be temporarily appointed to the seat. As he said on a Jan. 10 appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball” program, Frank believes his self-described expertise of the federal budget would be a big help as lawmakers seek to find spending cuts and make reforms to pare the massive U.S. deficit.

What’s more, Frank says he could run “interference” for former Nebraska GOP Sen. Chuck Hagel, if he is confirmed as defense secretary, slash the Pentagon’s budget.

Candidate Frank believes one way to generate deficit-reduction via the Pentagon budget is not to cancel existing weapon programs. That can be too difficult because of the need to get out of complicated contracts, he says. Instead, savings could be generated by “not start new ones.” He wants to shrink the U.S. nuclear arsenal and bring American troops home from Europe; both are expensive Cold War relics, Frank says.

He then went big-picture. And his views are likely to ruffle some feathers.

“The military is great at keeping bad things from happening, but the military cannot make good things happen,” Frank said of the worldview held by some GOP lawmakers and pundits that the U.S. armed forces should be used for a range of combat and non-combat missions (like nation-building) around the globe. “This is not 1947, 1948, when we were the sole survivor,” said Frank, referring to the post-World War II era.

In fact, Potential Sen. Frank concluded: “We often end up doing more harm than good.”

John T. Bennett

John T. Bennett

Bennett is the Editor of Defense News' CongressWatch channel. He has a Masters degree in Global Security Studies from Johns Hopkins University.
John T. Bennett
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