Panetta comments on sequestration delay
Panetta said the vote will give the federal government more time to develop a balanced deficit reduction plan to prevent arbitrary cuts that could threaten programs at the U.S. Department of Defense.
"Had Congress not acted, the Department of Defense - along with other federal agencies - would have been forced to begin taking dramatic steps that would have severely impacted our civilian personnel and disrupted our mission," Panetta said.
The secretary said that his fears continually grew as the sequestration deadline approached and he realized he would have to send a notice to 800,000 civilian DOD employees that they could be placed on furlough.
"Congress has prevented the worst possible outcome by delaying sequestration for two months," Panetta said. "Unfortunately, the cloud of sequestration remains. The responsibility now is to eliminate it as a threat by enacting balanced deficit reduction. Congress cannot continue to just kick the can down the road.
"This Department is doing its part to help the country address its deficit problem by working to implement $487 billion in spending reductions in accordance with our new defense strategy."
Panetta said his department needs to have stability in its budget and the resources to execute its mission, especially after more than a decade of war.