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Top Defense Official and Lawmakers Ponder Sequestration Effects on Military

Washington, DC
Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter Wednesday said budget cuts known as sequestration could lead to less training for troops being deployed to Afghanistan as well as cuts to basic services for military families. White House Budget Director Jeffrey Zients said Republicans are to blame for the standoff over the cuts because they have so far refused to consider ending the Bush-era tax cuts for those making over $250,000 a year.

The two officials testified about sequestration before the House Armed Services Committee. Congress could avoid the cuts, which also affect non-defense spending, by enacting $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction by the end of the year.Deputy Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter joins the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday for a hearing to examine the implications of sequestration on the Defense Department.

Pentagon officials have sounded the alarm on the impact of $500 billion in automatic budget cuts over a decade set to begin in January 2013. The cuts, referred to as sequestration, are the result of Congress being unable to agree on deficit reduction measures and come in addition to $487 billion in defense cuts already planned over the next 10 years.

All parties and both branches of government agree that the cuts should not happen, but the Republicans charge that the President has not provided a bill to prevent them, and the Democrats charge that budget bills are the responsibility of the House under the Constitution, which is currently led by a Republican majority.

Last week, House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) accused President Obama of showing a lack of leadership over the automatic spending cuts in defense and other areas as part of 2011 debt ceiling agreement. Speaker Boehner said the President only agreed to sequestration as a political ploy and charged that the White House hopes to avoid dealing with the debt ceiling before the presidential election.

The House passed legislation last week that would give the Obama administration 30 days to provide a plan for how they will deal with the $109 billion cut to 2013 spending agreed to in last summer’s debt ceiling deal.

Updated: Friday, August 3, 2012 at 1:17pm (ET)

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