Panetta: Don’t Just Kick the Sequestration Can

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday thanked Congress for temporarily averting budget sequestration and expressed hope that lawmakers would hash out a deficit-reduction plan that permanently removes the threat of these steep spending cuts. “My hope is that in the next two months, all of us in the leadership of the nation and the Congress can work together . . . to prevent sequestration once and for all,” he said in a Jan. 2 statement. The House and Senate on Tuesday approved legislation that postponed the start of sequestration from Jan. 2 to March 1. Even with the two-month delay, “the cloud of sequestration remains,” said Panetta, calling on Congress not to “continue to just kick the can down the road.” Included as a measure in the 2011 Budget Control Act, the budget sequester would strip some $500 billion from the Pentagon’s budget out through Fiscal 2021 on top of the $487 billion in spending reductions that the Defense Department already is absorbing. Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said on Wednesday the deal that Congress reached on Jan.1 likely would impact planning for the Pentagon’s Fiscal 2014 budget. (See also AFPS report by Jim Garamone.)