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DoD Turns Up Sequestration Heat On Capitol Hill

Posted by Carlo Munoz on

THE PENTAGON: DoD turned up the heat on lawmakers, restating that it has no plan for addressing another $500 billion-plus in additional defense cuts forced by the congressional Super Committee’s failure.

Furthermore, DoD will not formulate a plan to deal with the defense cuts prompted by the Obama administration’s sequestration plan, Pentagon comptroller Bob Hale told reporters during yesterday’s 2013 budget rollout here. “This is not a good policy,” Hale said regarding the administration’s tentative sequestration plan to take $600 billion from DoD coffers. The Pentagon’s refusal to draft a sequestration budget strategy essentially challenges Capitol Hill to come up with a way to spare the department any more spending cuts.

The department’s $525.4 billion request for fiscal ’13 sent to the Hill today includes measures that will pay for over half — or roughly $260 billion — of the $450 billion cut called for in the Budget Control Act passed last July. That $250 billion will be spread over the Pentagon’s five-year spending plan, known as the Future Years Defense Plan, spanning from fiscal ’13 to ’17. The rest of those cuts will be parsed out through the rest of the decade. But last November’s failure of the congressional Super Committee to slash $1.2 billion from the national deficit let loose another round of defense cuts to the tune of $600 billion. The cuts under that sequestration plan are on top of the $450 billion already passed under the Budget Control Act.

That potential $1 trillion cut to defense spending, if enacted, will cripple the military former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Michael Mullen said shortly before his retirement last September. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has been equally adamant on the impact sequestration would have on U.S. military readiness. Hale’s statements entrenches DoD deeper in its opposition to the sequestration plan. It also puts the problem of coming up with a plan to avoid more defense reductions squarely on the shoulders of Congress. But this flies in the face of the White House’s threat to veto any effort to change the sequestration plan set off by the Super Committee’s failure. But that threat has not stopped Republicans from coming up with their own alternatives.

GOP leaders from the House and Senate Armed Services Committees unveiled dueling plans to get DoD off the sequestration hook late last year. The House plan, pitched by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon, calls for a ten percent total cut to the federal workforce spread over 10 years, which if enacted, will clear $127 billion from the $600 billion sequestration cut. The Senate plan, spearheaded by Senate Armed Services Ranking Member John McCain, will include budget reduction recommendations proposed by the Super Committee. One recommendation that is being considered is a federal spending cap of 18 percent of the gross domestic product, McCain said last December. But Senate Republicans declined to go into details on what other recommendations could be included at that time.

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