News Column

Pentagon Chief Urges Congress to Eliminate Sequestration

Jan. 3, 2013
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta

After Congress passed a fiscal cliff bill that would delay automatic cuts to defense spending, U. S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta on Wednesday voiced optimism for finding a permanent way to avoid the 500-billion-dollar sequestration, and urged Congress to do so.

"On behalf of the Department of Defense, I want to express our thanks to the Democratic and Republican members of Congress who voted to temporarily avert sequestration," Panetta said in a statement. "Hopefully, this will allow additional time to develop a balanced deficit reduction plan that would permanently prevent these arbitrary cuts."

Congress passed legislation Tuesday delaying the sequestration process by two months. Sequestration, included in the 2011 Budget Control Act, would have automatically cut 500 billion dollars from defense spending over 10 years on top of 487 billion in spending reductions already identified over the same time frame.

Had Congress not acted, the Defense Department, along with other federal agencies, would have been forced to take dramatic steps which would have "severely impacted" civilian personnel and disrupted the department's operation, Panetta said.

The defense secretary credited Congress with preventing the " worst possible outcome" by delaying sequestration for two months, but noted that the threat of sequestration continues.

"Unfortunately, the cloud of sequestration remains," Panetta said. "The responsibility now is to eliminate it as a threat by enacting balanced deficit reduction. Congress cannot continue to just kick the can down the road."

Panetta said he hoped the Congress can work together to " prevent sequestration once and for all" in the next two months.

(c) 2013 Xinhua News Agency - CEIS. Provided by ProQuest LLC. All rights Reserved.

Source: Copyright Xinhua News Agency - CEIS 2013

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