COUNTING ON CONGRESS
“We’re counting on Congress to avoid” sequestration, Kendall told the conference known as ComDef. “It doesn’t allow us to prioritize is the problem.”
“It doesn’t allow us to find the things that are least important to us,” he added. “It doesn’t allow us to avoid some of the damage that would be done by this kind of a mechanism.”
The likelihood is that Congress will agree to a continuing resolution, probably for six months, Kendall said. Such a measure is used to fund the government if a formal appropriations bill has not been signed into law by the end of the fiscal year.
The top Republican and top Democrat in Congress struck a tentative deal in July to extend funding for federal agencies through March 2013, calling a truce in at least part of Washington’s multi-front battle over taxes and spending.
Separately, talks are under way among lawmakers aimed at postponing the Jan. 2 automatic spending cuts, or at least the defense half of them. Some have said a six-month delay would give Congress time to sort out a deficit-reduction approach that is more strategic and targeted.
The Defense Department has cancelled about 50 significant weapons programs since 2008, saving more than $300 billion in projected costs over what would have been their useful lives, Brett Lambert, a deputy secretary of defense for manufacturing, told Reuters later on Wednesday.
Kendall did not specify which programs he thought might be vulnerable to termination as part of further belt-tightening.