Senate Moves to Continuing Resolution, House Armed Services Committee Talks Sequestration
Clock Ticks Down on Passage of Continuing Resolution in the Senate
Buck McKeon (R-CA), HASC committee members questioned the panel at length on the impact sequestration will have on personnel. Of major concern will be the impact on the civilian personnel work force who are not protected from cuts under the Budget Control Act or Presidential mandate. Likewise, there is significant angst among the ranks of active forces as to whether or not the Pentagon and Congress will maintain promises made to soldiers, especially after FY13 when exemptions to personnel accounts expire.
As a whole, if sequestration comes into play, the Department of Defense would face a tough battle in terms of prioritizing readiness, manpower, benefits, healthcare, education, as well as the long term impact on contracts and modernization. Gen. Dunbar indicated, in response to a question from Representative Allen West (R-FL), that it would be impossible to maintain balance and readiness if faced with draconian cuts to defense accounts. Many of the services would be forced to go below force structure requirements after FY13.
Many accounts would face more than the 10% across the board cuts since the Pentagon will prioritize funding the Overseas Contingency Operations (OCO) funds. This means that in protecting OCO, other areas of the Pentagon's base budget would have to be drained from, and some contracts would have to be re-opened and revised. Comptroller Robert F. Hale said the department will seek to “protect the war-time operating budget to the extent that we can.”
HASC stressed the unique challenges ahead for the Defense Department should there be no negotiation to stop sequestration from going into effect, especially since there have been no moves at the Pentagon to prepare for these looming cuts.
Tell us what you think - Will the Senate be able to agree on a Continuing Resolution? Will Congress kick the Sequester can further down the road?