Opponents of last year’s across-the-board spending cuts are hoping — perhaps quixotically — that sequestration’s second verse won’t be the same as its first.
Now that a bipartisan deal has ended the government shutdown, the resulting budget conference committee is the new best hope for turning off the cuts that have hit the Pentagon and defense industry hard and threaten to get even worse.
But even though the latest chapter in Washington gridlock is over, very little has actually changed.
“It’s important to note that Congress did not remove the shadow of uncertainty that has been cast over this department and our government much of this year,” Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said Thursday during a press briefing at the Pentagon.
“The damaging cuts of sequestration remain the law of the land,” he said. “In the months ahead, Congress will have an opportunity to remove this shadow of uncertainty as they work to craft a balanced, long-term spending bill.”
Hagel urged lawmakers to give the Defense Department and its vast workforce stability and predictability after the ringer they’ve been through, including sequestration furloughs over the summer and then shutdown furloughs more recently.
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