Sometimes, tragic military training accidents take the lives of America’s finest. However, only during budget cuts do lawmakers try to shamelessly blame the deaths on conservative fiscal policies.
Seven Marines from the 2nd Marine Expeditionary Force were killed in a Monday night explosion at the Hawthorne Army Depot in Nevada when a 60mm mortar exploded during a training exercise. All of the victims were males under the age of 30, according to reports.
The tragedy prompted lawmakers and military leaders throughout the Nation to express condolences to the families of those killed.
“The men and women who work and train there put service ahead of self each and every day,” Republican Governor Brian Sandoval of Nevada said in a statement. “Kathleen and I wish to extend our deepest sympathies to those killed and their families.”
“I was so saddened to learn about the seven Marines from Camp Lejeune who were killed last night in Nevada,” Senator Kay Hagan (D-N.C.), said in a statement. “My thoughts and prayers are with the families of the Marines who were killed and those who were injured, and I will continue to monitor the investigation so we can find out what happened and take appropriate steps.”
And then, of course, there was Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) who expressed condolences before quickly using the tragedy to push the Democratic agenda with regard to sequestration.
Reid said on the Senate floor:
As I indicated, it was quite a big explosion. We’ll follow this news very closely. I will do whatever I can going forward to support the United States military and the families of the fallen Marines.
Mr. President, it’s very important we continue training our military, so important. But one of the things in sequester is we cut back in training and maintenance. That’s the way sequester was written. Now, the bill that’s on the floor, we hope to pass today helps that a little bit. At least in the next six months, it allows the military some degree of ability to move things around a little bit. Flexibility, we call it, and that’s good. But we have to be very vigilant. This sequester should go away. We have cut already huge amounts of money in deficit reduction. It’s just not appropriate, Mr. President, that our military can’t train and do the maintenance necessary.
These men and women, our Marines were training there in Hawthorne. And with this sequester, it’s going to cut back this stuff. I just hope everyone understands the sacrifices made by our military. They are significant, being away from home, away from families, away from their country.
The Marine Corps quickly criticized Reid’s comments, saying that the Senator was posturing on the backs of dead Marines.