Pentagon Waits Out Shutdown While Sequestration Looms

Stephanie Gaskell, Defense One
See more stories about...
Stephanie Gaskell, Defense One
Oct. 3, 2013, 10:02 a.m.

De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel is trav­el­ing in Asia, far from the dys­func­tion of Wash­ing­ton where Con­gress has once again hi­jacked his abil­ity to plan his budget. First there was se­quest­ra­tion, now there’s a gov­ern­ment shut­down and, in a mat­ter of months, an­oth­er fight over se­quest­ra­tion and this year’s budget.

“The Pentagon … has no budget. We are still liv­ing un­der this dark cloud of un­cer­tainty not know­ing what’s go­ing to hap­pen. This re­flects on our mis­sions around the world. It re­flects our al­lies’ ques­tion­ing our com­mit­ments. It af­fects our plan­ning as we are in the pro­cess, as you know, of pre­par­ing a 2015 budget as we are pre­par­ing for fur­ther sig­ni­fic­ant cuts un­der the cur­rent law, Budget Con­trol Act 2011, which means $52 bil­lion in ad­di­tion­al cuts,” Hagel said dur­ing a stop in Seoul, South Korea.

Hagel has been talk­ing to Deputy Sec­ret­ary Ash Carter, Comp­troller Bob Hale and act­ing Gen­er­al Coun­sel Bob Taylor to find a way to mit­ig­ate the pain of the shut­down, namely how to ex­empt more ci­vil­ian work­ers from fur­loughs. He said na­tion­al se­cur­ity is not at risk, but “when you take that num­ber of ci­vil­ian em­ploy­ees out of the mix of every day plan­ning and work­ing — and they all work with these kinds of things — you’re go­ing to im­pact read­i­ness. You’re go­ing to im­pact a mis­sion. There’s no point in kid­ding about that.”

Pentagon lead­ers are strug­gling to match their stra­tegic goals — wind­ing down the war in Afgh­anistan, re­bal­an­cing to Asia while keep­ing an eye on the Middle East, be­com­ing a lean­er mil­it­ary — without know­ing what budget con­di­tions they’re op­er­at­ing un­der.

“It would be nice to say we do a strategy and then we de­rive a budget. And in good times, in nor­mal times, we’re a lot closer to that,” Hale said in a re­cent in­ter­view with De­fense One. “So I think it would be disin­genu­ous to say that we aren’t — there are budget-driv­en de­cisions that are hap­pen­ing right now. We are try­ing to keep in mind the strategy in every way that we can, but we have meet some of the leg­ally bind­ing budget tar­gets.”

Hagel, a former sen­at­or who joined Con­gress in 1997 just after the last gov­ern­ment shut­down, said he’s frus­trated by the grid­lock in Con­gress.

“I do worry,” he said, “about the es­sence of gov­ern­ing in a demo­cracy and that we’ve seemed to lose, and that is con­sensus and com­prom­ise. No demo­cracy can gov­ern it­self without con­sensus and com­prom­ise. It is im­possible. And we seem to have lost that. We have seemed to have lost our way in that be­ing an ob­ject­ive of gov­ern­ing.”

Re­prin­ted with per­mis­sion from De­fense One. The ori­gin­al story can be found here.

What We're Following See More »
WILL ANNOUNCE PICK BEFORE CONVENTION
Trump to Name VP Search Committee
47 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"Donald J. Trump said on Wednesday that he expected to reveal his vice presidential pick sometime in July—before the Republican National Convention in Cleveland—but added that he would soon announce a committee to handle the selection process, which would include Dr. Ben Carson." He said he's inclined to name a traditional political figure, unlike himself.

Source:
AFFECTS WORKERS EARNING MORE THAN $50K
Business, Nonprofits Panicking Over Labor’s New Overtime Rules
50 minutes ago
THE LATEST

"Groups have flocked to the White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs to ask for last-minute changes" to the Department of Labor's new overtime rules, which would require that businesses pay overtime to any salaried employee making more than $50,440 per year, up from the current $23,660. Business interests, as well as some nonprofits, say the move could lead to mass change in workers' statuses, from salaried to hourly. "The White House office held 22 meetings on the proposal in April, according to its calendar, and groups say more meetings are planned this week." Last month, National Journal's Alex Brown reported on how the change might affect Washington.

Source:
KAUFMAN, HUNTSMAN ALSO MAY JUMP ON BOARD
Ed Rollins Joins Pro-Trump Super PAC
55 minutes ago
THE LATEST

Republican gun-for-hire Ed Rollins is hopping on the bandwagon, er, the Great America PAC, "an outside group that’s supporting Trump. ... Rollins isn’t the only GOP mainstay coming around to Trump. In recent days, Republican veterans including Republican National Committeeman Ron Kaufman and former Utah Gov. Jon Huntsman have expressed an openness to him."

Source:
PRESSER IN OHIO THIS AFTERNOON
Report: Kasich Is Bowing Out
1 hours ago
THE LATEST

John Kasich is apparently the last domino to fall on the GOP side. NBC is reporting he's suspending his presidential campaign. His path to the Republican nomination seemed all but impossible—even at a contested convention—but he may have finally given up. The Washington Examiner reports Kasich has canceled a press conference at Dulles Airport, "and will instead hold one in Columbus, Ohio, at 5 p.m."

Source:
CNN/ORC
Clinton Ahead by 13 in Early Going
2 hours ago
THE LATEST

"As Donald Trump captures the mantle of presumptive Republican nominee, a new poll finds he begins his general election campaign well behind Democratic front-runner Hillary Clinton. The new CNN/ORC Poll, completed ahead of Trump's victory last night, found Clinton leads 54% to 41%, a 13-point edge over the New York businessman, her largest lead since last July. Clinton is also more trusted than Trump on many issues voters rank as critically important, with one big exception. By a 50% to 45% margin, voters say Trump would do a better job handling the economy than Clinton would."

Source:
×