U.S. Senators Lindsey Graham (R-South Carolina) and John McCain (R-Arizona) today issued the following statement reacting to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta's letter detailing the "devastating" impact on the Department of Defense should a sequester result from a failure of the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction to reach agreement:
"On November 3rd, we wrote to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta requesting concrete details regarding the impact to the Department of Defense of a possible sequester -- the roughly $1 trillion of mandatory cuts to defense spending that would be triggered if the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction fails to reach consensus on reducing the debt. Today, we received Secretary Panetta's response in which the Secretary states clearly that the consequences of a sequester would be "devastating.'
"The immediate impact of a sequester, according to Secretary Panetta -- who previously served as Chairman of the House Budget Committee and Chief of Staff to President Bill Clinton -- could be a 23 percent across-the-board cut to our nation's defense programs. Shipbuilding and construction contracts would have to be curtailed, and civilian personnel and contractors would have to be furloughed. The end result of these cuts after ten years would be "the smallest ground force since 1940, the smallest number of ships since 1915, and the smallest Air Force in its history.' The United States would face "substantial risk of not being able to meet our defense needs.'
"The consequence of a sequester on the Defense Department would set off a swift decline of the United States as the world's leading military power. We are staunchly opposed to this draconian action. This is not an outcome that we can live with, and it is certainly not one that we should impose on ourselves. The sequester is a threat to the national security interests of the United States, and it should not be allowed to occur."