Panetta, McKeon Find Common Cause in Avoiding Further Spending Cuts
On Capitol Hill Wednesday, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said he would be willing to work with House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) to prevent an additional $500 billion in defense cuts from going into effect starting in January 2013.
McKeon was openly critical of the fiscal 2013 budget the Pentagon unveiled Monday, saying it did not “adequately address threats posed by our adversaries around the world,” but he tried to enlist Panetta’s support in undoing the automatic spending cuts resulting from the super committee’s earlier failure to reach agreement on a deficit reduction plan. Panetta testified that sequestration would be “devastating,” forcing DOD officials to rip up their long-term budget, which already incorporates $487 billion in spending reductions, and start over.
“Whatever we can do on both sides to develop an approach that would detrigger sequestration, we’re certainly willing to work on that,” Panetta said. Despite offering his support, the defense secretary would not specifically endorse McKeon’s measure to postpone the government-wide spending cuts until fiscal 2014 by trimming the federal workforce.
Panetta also made the case for new rounds of base closure in 2013 and 2015, saying they are needed in the long term not only to save money, but also to rebalance the force following a decade of war, reported American Forces Press Service.
For more information on the department’s FY 2013 budget request, visit the DOD website.