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Prospect of Sequestration Having Impact, Panetta Says

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  • February 16, 2012
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While congressional defense hawks and others attempt to overturn $500 billion in automatic defense cuts slated to go into effect starting next January, the threat alone of sequestration is casting a “huge shadow of doubt” over defense industries, their workers and the military, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told the House Defense Appropriations Subcommittee Thursday.

“The threat that it may happen is something that’s having an impact,” Panetta said.

Panetta reiterated his view that the prospect of further cuts to the defense budget through 2021– beyond the $487 billion in savings the department already has identified — would impede the military’s ability to respond to a range of global threats.

Yet, while lawmakers in both chambers have introduced legislation to postpone the government-wide spending cuts until fiscal 2014 by trimming the federal workforce, the odds those efforts will succeed remain low, reports CQ Today. The measure advanced by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) has about 50 co-signers, but remarks from McKeon Thursday indicate that may not be enough support, according to the publication.

“It doesn’t look good that we can fix this,” McKeon said.

Comments by Panetta before the appropriations panel Thursday were critical of McKeon’s bill. Congress should not try to “de-trigger sequestration on the backs of the civilian workforce,” he said.

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