Sen. Mike Johanns says he understands the frustration of his former colleague, Chuck Hagel, who now as Secretary of Defense has issued a warning about the impact automatic budget cuts might have on the military.
During a briefing with reporters at the Pentagon, Hagel warned about the impact sequestration might have on the military. Hagel, the former United States Senator from Nebraska, stated the $500 billion in automatic budget cuts scheduled for the next 10 years would leave the nation with an ill-prepared and underequipped military. He said the Pentagon might be forced to dock three aircraft carriers and sharply reduce the size of the Army and Marine Corps.
In issuing the warning, Hagel acknowledged the political skepticism that greets any proclamation from the Obama Administration about the possible ramifications of sequestration, which kicked in when Congress failed to reach agreement on cuts to the federal budget.
“I know there’s politics in all this,” Hagel stated. “But what we’re trying to project here is not crying wolf or not trying to overstate or overhype.”
The Department of Defense will be required to cut its budget for the next fiscal year that begins October 1st by $50 billion.
Johanns says there is no doubt the Department of Defense must be adequately funded.
“But we have to remember that we are not working with a bottomless pot of resources here,” Johanns tells Nebraska reporters during a conference call. “We can only find ways to responsibly fund these important programs if we work together and try to find out a solution to the problem, which means putting everything on the table.”
Johanns has been beating the fiscal responsibility drum the past few weeks. He has criticized the Senate Appropriations Committee, on which he sits, for budgeting $91 billion more than allowed by the Budget Control Act.
Johanns says Congress has failed to take care of next year’s budget, which begins October first. Congress leaves at the end of this week for its August break, not coming back until September.
“We have just three weeks, just 15 legislative days, after we’re back to get all this sorted out,” Johanns says. “I hope we can reach a responsible solution. It’s going to take everybody working together to get there.”
AUDIO: Sen. Mike Johanns comments on Sec. of Defense Hagel’s budget warning and fiscal issues in general. [4 min.]