Panetta Urges Bipartisanship to Deal with Looming Sequester
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Thursday urged Congress to reach a compromise to reverse the budget sequester, saying the plan passed by the House Thursday to shield the Pentagon from the automatic spending cuts coming next year will result in “a greater likelihood of sequester.”
Even though the House Republicans’ strategy would inoculate DOD from $55 billion in additional spending reductions in fiscal 2013, because it targets domestic programs benefitting the poor and the middle class, the president will never accept it, he explained.
“It’s not balanced, it’s not fair, and ultimately the Senate isn’t going to accept it either. So all we’re headed for right now is further gridlock, and that’s what bothers me,” Panetta said at a Pentagon news briefing.
The bill approved by the House nullifies $98 billion in discretionary funding cuts slated to go into effect in January, with more than half benefitting the defense budget. The measure substitutes a $19 billion reduction in the discretionary spending limit for FY 2013 and more than $300 billion over the next 10 years in “reconciliation” savings from social welfare programs and other mandatory spending.