JEFFERSON CITY — Missouri's Republican U.S. Senate primary race is only one day old, and former state Treasurer Sarah Steelman already is criticizing U.S. Rep. Todd Akin for supporting a "weak-kneed budget compromise" that she says failed to make deep enough spending cuts.
Steelman criticized Akin in an e-mail sent to supporters Wednesday, just a day after the suburban St. Louis congressman announced his candidacy for the GOP primary to take on Democratic U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill.
Akin voted last month for legislation cutting a record $38 billion in federal spending. But Steelman called the measure a "weak-kneed budget compromise" between House Republicans and Democratic President Barack Obama and said she would have held out for the full $100 billion in cuts originally sought by some Republicans.
"Akin's failure to do so showed the House Republicans to be toothless dragons as we battle over the debt limit," Steelman said.
Akin told The Associated Press that Steelman doesn't fully understand the issue.
Akin is chairman of the Seapower and Expeditionary Forces Subcommittee of the House Armed Services Committee. He said the budget bill was vital for funding for the Department of Defense, which he said had been unable to initiate orders for new aircraft and ships or make certain personnel changes under the series of continuing budget resolutions that had been passed since last October. While making cuts to domestic spending, the legislation passed last month also funds the Department of Defense for the remainder of the federal fiscal year.
"We're supposed to provide for the common defense," Akin said, citing the Constitution, "and that was being hampered."
Akin added: "Most people who voted against it, I don't think fully understand the implications from a defense point of view."
Steelman denied any lack of understanding on the issue. In an e-mail to the AP, she suggested that the Defense Department funding could have been separated from the legislation that contained cuts and continued funding for other aspects of the federal government. She said that the passage of numerous short-term funding bills highlights "an out-of-control government that is addicted to spending.
"Todd Akin is demonstrating again that he's become just another part of the Washington establishment," Steelman said.