Panetta Presses Congress to Act

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Oct. 25 called on Congress to resolve the budget sequestration issue as soon as possible after the Nov. 6 national election. He urged the lawmakers to act during the lame-duck session to prevent sequestration from taking effect in January and stripping an additional $500 billion from the defense budget over the next 10 years. “There are only 70 days until [sequestration] happens, and Congress is certainly on the clock,” said Panetta during a Pentagon press briefing with Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin Dempsey. Panetta also said he wants lawmakers to conclude the Fiscal 2013 defense legislation, act on a pending cyber security bill, and confirm the nominations of Marine Gen. John Allen to be US European Command boss and of Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford to replace Allen as NATO’s commander in Kabul. “This is a full agenda,” said Panetta. “It’s one that requires Democrats and Republicans to work together. And, after a tough national election, the American people, I think, will expect both parties to roll up their sleeves, work together to solve the problems facing the nation, and to protect our national security.” (Panetta-Dempsey transcript) (AFPS report by Jim Garamone)