Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Martin Dempsey appear before the Senate Appropriations Committee on the FY2013 Budget Request for the Defense Department.
Senators asked about the coming sequestration under last year's Budget Control Act, which will force cuts of up to $500 billion on defense programs starting in 2013, unless Congress comes to another agreement this year.
Sec. Panetta has said publicly that he believes the sequestration is an "artificial crisis" and that Congress will eliminate the cuts before they take effect. The House has already passed legislation that would remove many of the cuts. Defense contractors, including Lockheed Martin, have indicated that they will begin to cut jobs and programs later this summer in anticipation of the cuts, unless action is taken quickly.
Secretary Panetta, prior to his nomination to head the CIA at the beginning of President Obama's term, had served as President Bill Clinton's Director of the Office of Management and Budget and spent four years as the chairman of the House Budget Committee while a congressman from California.