The House Armed Services Committee met today for a hearing on Department of Defense Plans for Sequestration: The Sequestration Transparency Act of 2012 Report and the Way Forward. Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon made the following statement available as prepared for delivery:
"This will be the last week the House is in session until mid-November. Today's hearing will provide Members a final opportunity before the lame duck session to inform themselves and their constituents about how sequestration will be implemented and how those decisions will affect our men and women in uniform and our national security.
"We had hoped that the President would provide this information in the report required by the Sequestration Transparency Act. Unfortunately, he failed to comply with both the letter and the spirit of the law. Not only was the report late, but the report submitted to Congress merely paid lip service to the dire national security implications of these cuts -- after the President has had over a year to consider this crisis.
"Moreover, the White House has even gone so far as to instruct the Department of Defense not to make preparations for sequestration. Nevertheless, as previous testimony to this Committee has provided, many of our military leaders believe initial preparation for sequestration must occur well in advance of the January 2, 2013 implementation date. For example, when the Secretary of the Army, John McHugh, was asked this spring if plans for sequestration were underway, he stated "[w]e are not doing as yet any hard planning. That would probably happen later this summer."
"Today we are following up with the Department to review and understand the mechanics of sequestration -- how would they implement it -- and the timelines necessary to develop a comprehensive and concrete strategy if sequestration were to occur. This morning we will hear firsthand from the Honorable Robert F. Hale, Undersecretary of Defense -- Comptroller; General Lloyd J. Austin III, Vice Chief of Staff of the Army; Admiral Mark Ferguson, Vice Chief of Naval Operations; General Larry O. Spencer, Vice Chief of Staff of the Air Force; and General Joseph F. Dunford, Assistant Commandant of the Marine Corps.
"Let me make one final observation and appeal to our witnesses. As the recent violence throughout the Middle East has reminded us, we are living in the most dynamic and complex security environment in recent memory. The decisions we make with regard to sequestration will have a tangible and lasting effect on that global security environment.
"Last month, in testimony before the Committee, the White House budget director stated, "The impact of sequestration cannot be lessened with advance planning and executive action." He misses the point -- planning can't resolve sequestration. But the lack of planning and the failure to exercise leadership now can make a dire situation worse. Gentlemen, we understand that there are no easy choices here, but now is not the time for ambiguity. In your testimony, I urge each of you to be as clear with us as you possibly can about what the road ahead portends for the implementation of sequestration. This could well be the last opportunity for our military to get these facts on the record before the deadline for a legislative remedy has passed."