U.S. Department of Defense Secretary Leon Panetta today sent a letter to Congress outlining the likely impact that President Obama's sequester will have on our national defense capabilities as well as federal civilian workforce. Congressman Rob Bishop (UT-01), a member of the House Armed Services Committee whose district includes Hill Air Force Base, issued the following statement in response:
"I share Secretary Panetta's concerns over the impact that sequestration will have on national security and our civilian workforce. The House has taken action, not once, but twice. We passed two bills to avoid sequestration but the Senate refused to consider them. This isn't a blame game, it's the truth. The Senate and President Obama have done nothing to stop sequestration despite the fact that there is broad bipartisan support to do so. Top military leaders and the Secretary of Defense have informed us in no uncertain terms that sequestration will have dire consequences. As commander-in-chief, the President is responsible for ensuring the health and viability of our national defense capabilities--yet he appears unengaged. With only a few days left until sequestration, the President is reported to have been playing golf in Florida. He has certainly proven capable of leisure, now it's time to prove that he's capable of leadership."
The letter, issued today to Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) and the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) by Secretary Panetta, cautioned that a failure to avoid automatic spending cuts known as "sequestration" would likely result in furloughs to civilian personnel. The letter states that, "If sequestration is not avoided, the magnitude of the potential reductions will damage force readiness, slow major acquisition programs, and necessitate civilian furlough action that will negatively affect our Federal civilian workforce. Overall, sequestration will put us on a path toward a hollow force and inflict serious damage on our national security."
In an effort to prevent sequestration, the House passed the following two bills:
§ Sequester Replacement Reconciliation Act of 2012 (HR 5652), which would have eliminated the FY 2013 sequester and reduced the deficit
§ Spending Reduction Act of 2012 (HR 6684), which would have eliminated the FY 2013 sequester and reduced the deficit by $237 billion