Testifying on Capitol Hill, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta urged Congress to prevent $500 billion in defense cuts from automatically taking effect and doing “untold damage” to America’s national security.
The budget mechanism that would put defense cuts on autopilot “is a crazy process that would do untold damage to our national defense,” Panetta told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday. ”It’s a mechanism that would do just kind of blindsided cuts across the board and would really hollow out the force.”
The Obama administration originally proposed and congressional negotiators agreed to the automatic cuts, known as “sequestration,” to incentivize the congressional super committee to reach a ten-year deficit reduction agreement. The super committee famously flopped.
“It would be devastating. … Another $500 billion and I’d have to throw the strategy I just presented to you out the window,” Panetta said, speaking about the defense budget for the fiscal year 2013.
Panetta told committee chairman Rep. “Buck” McKeon, a Republican, “I’m prepared to work with you in every way possible to try to work on both sides to try to develop an approach that would de-trigger sequestration.”