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Tea Partiers Say Keep Defense in Mix for Budget Cuts

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Tea party supporters clamoring for the government to slash spending say nothing should be off limits. Tea party-backed lawmakers echo that argument, and they're not exempting the military's multibillion-dollar budget.

That's creating hard choices for the new Republicans in Congress who owe their elections to the influential grass-roots movement. Cutting defense and canceling weapons could mean spending reductions and high marks from tea partiers. It also could jeopardize jobs.

Proponents of the cuts could face criticism they're weakening national security.

House Republican leaders specifically exempted defense, homeland security and veterans' programs from spending cuts in their "Pledge to America" campaign manifesto. The defense budget is about $700 billion annually. Few in Congress have been willing to make cuts as U.S. troops fight two wars.

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