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Panetta: Congress Needs to Adddress Sequestration, Spending Items After Election

With 70 days to go until the start of sequestration, Defense Secretary Leon Panetta told reporters at a Thursday Pentagon news conference Congress needs to go to work as soon as the election is over to avoid the cuts.

According to the American Forces Press Service, Panetta also listed cybersecurity legislation and a defense authorization bill as action items for lawmakers to address after the Nov. 6 election.

Sequestration requires $500 billion in defense spending cuts over the next decade on top of the $487 billion cut already required under the Budget Control Act already in effect for that period.

“Congress is certainly on the clock when it comes to that potential sequestration occurring,” Panetta said, according to Jim Garamone’s report for AFPS.

The sequester is one source of uncertainty for the Pentagon along with having to operate under a series of short-term continuing resolutions, with the current stopgap measure scheduled to expire in March.

According to The Hill newspaper, Panetta said the department’s work to build its fiscal 2014 budget plan is not based on action from Congress because lawmakers have not done anything, adding the inaction leaves him questioning the department’s financial stability in the decade ahead.

Lawmakers must also take care of the nominations of Marine Corps Gen. John Allen as the next commander of U.S. European Command and as NATO’s Supreme Allied Commander, with Marine Corps Gen. Joseph Dunford chosen to succeed Allen as lead of the NATO coalition in Afghanistan, Panetta added.

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