With Congress unlikely to stop deep automatic spending cuts that will strike hard at the military, the fiscal stalemate is highlighting a significant shift in the Republican Party: lawmakers most keenly dedicated to shrinking the size of government are now more dominant than the bloc committed foremost to a robust national defense, particularly in the House…

“Fiscal questions trump defense in a way they never would have after 9/11,” said Representative Tom Cole, Republican of Oklahoma. “But the war in Iraq is over. Troops are coming home from Afghanistan, and we want to secure the cuts.”

Representative Howard P. McKeon of California, the chairman of the Armed Services Committee and one of the lawmakers Democrats had hoped would never accept the military cuts, went almost as far. “Republicans aren’t cookie cutter,” he said, “but we do agree on the basic premise of where we’re trying to go. And if we don’t get our fiscal house in order, it’s very hard to provide for the defense of the nation.”…

“We always thought it wouldn’t happen because the other side wouldn’t stomach the nondefense reductions,” said Representative Tom Price, a Georgia Republican and a leading voice among House conservatives. “I guess what happened was each side was too smart for the other.”