The PJ Tatler

Committee Leaders to Hagel: Want to Tell Us Where You Plan to Cut?

The leaders of the Senate Armed Services Committee are seeking Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s leadership on where to cut to meet the $52 billion in Fiscal Year 2014 mandated by sequestration.

“Virtually every DOD witness who has come before the Armed Services Committee this year has testified that an additional round of sequestration in fiscal year 2014 would be devastating for the Department,” Chairman Carl Levin (D-Mich.) and Ranking Member Jim Inhofe (R-Okla.) wrote to Hagel yesterday.

“Despite this testimony, many members of Congress and the public still seem to have the view that sequestration is an effective way to cut government spending and can be made workable simply by providing the Department with additional flexibility or making minor adjustments. As a result, there is an increasing risk that DOD and other federal agencies may face sequestration again in 2014.”

Levin and Inhofe asked Hagel to provide a package of reductions to the committee by July 1.

“We recognize that it will not be easy to put together such a package.  In our view, however, a concrete demonstration of the painful choices the Department would have to make to cut $52 billion from its budget may be our last, best hope of avoiding sequestration altogether,” they added.

Levin said in a statement that he believes other agencies should put their cuts in writing, too.

“I hope other committees make similar requests of the departments in their jurisdiction, so that we can demonstrate to our colleagues and the American people how urgent it is that we end sequestration and substitute a balanced approach to budgeting and deficits,” the senator said.

Inhofe noted “the men and women of our military have already endured almost $600 billion in cuts and stand to lose another $52 billion next year because of a failure to address sequestration.”

“Our military was told last year not to worry about sequestration, that it would not happen, but the failed promise has led to an enormous amount of uncertainty that has prevented our military leaders from properly planning to ensure the capabilities and readiness of our force,” the Oklahoma Republican said. “It is vital for DoD and Sec. Hagel to provide Congress with a detailed plan for the implementation of the FY’14 defense cuts so that my colleagues and the American public will have a clear understanding of what the future holds for our military capabilities and overall national security.”