In listening sessions with their rank and file, House Republican leaders said they have found a surprising willingness to consider defense cuts that would have been unthinkable five years ago, when they last controlled the House. While the sessions have sparked heated debate on many issues, Rep. Peter Roskam (Ill.), the deputy GOP whip, said there are few lawmakers left who view the Pentagon budget as sacrosanct.

“When we say everything is on the table, that’s what we mean,” said House Majority Whip Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.), the No. 3 leader who has been hosting the listening sessions in his Capitol offices…

“To get anything through the House, you’re going to need some Democratic votes. This isn’t a one-way street here,” said a senior administration official, speaking on the condition of anonymity to discuss the closed-door sessions. “It’s clear that any package is going to have to have significant spending reductions, including in Pentagon spending.”

The official said the package must also “have some of these tax deductions closed,” referring to perks in the tax code that benefit the oil and gas industry, hedge fund managers and jet-setting corporate executives.