Not Always Better Late than Never

For the past 16 months, Pentagon leaders have decried the across-the-board defense spending cuts mandated under budget sequestration. However, now that Fiscal 2013 is nearing the halfway point, “it doesn’t matter that much” if Congress would now grant the Pentagon the authority to choose where to make the cuts that the sequester would demand, Deputy Defense Secretary Ash Carter told the Senate Armed Services Committee on Feb. 12. The sequester will kick in on March 1 unless Congress prevents it. Carter said, “at this point,” DOD would “have to go everywhere” to find the $46 billion that DOD would have to shed in the remainder of the fiscal year under sequestration. However, there are areas that defense officials can’t touch, he said. While DOD would be able to furlough civilian workers to save funds, it cannot lay them off, he noted. Further, military personnel are exempt from the sequester, and because it’s well into the fiscal year, a “large amount” of the budget already has been obligated, said Carter. “So, all we have left is . . . the unobligated reserve,” which is “tiny,” he said. (Carter’s written statement)