Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta thanked Congress for delaying sequestration two months, but also acknowledged that a decision about the federal deficit needs to be reached as “the cloud of sequestration remains,” he said.
Congressional leaders delayed the decision on sequestration as part of the American Tax Relief Act of 2012 it passed on Tuesday night to avoid the fiscal cliff. Sequestration, across the board cuts totaling $1.2 trillion over the next decade, will take effect now if Congress cannot reach an agreement of the federal government’s deficit.
“This Department is doing its part to help the country address its deficit problem by working to implement $487 billion in spending reductions in accordance with our new defense strategy,” Panetta said. “The specter of sequestration has cast a shadow over our efforts. We need to have stability in our future budgets. We need to have the resources to effectively execute our strategy, defend the nation, and meet our commitments to troops and their families after more than a decade of war.”
In his statement, Panetta said sequestration would have been “the worst possible outcome” and the cuts would be devastating to the department if taken place.
He added that if sequestration was enacted, he would had to send out a notice to 800,000 civilian employees that they are subject to furlough.
“Every day, the men and women of this Department put their lives on the line to protect us all here at home,” Panetta said. “Those of us in Washington have no greater responsibility than to give them what they need to succeed and to come home safely. 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 provide that stability and to prevent sequestration once and for all. Our national security demands no less.”