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White House delivers sequestration details

The White House released its 396-page report Thursday that includes details on the $54.7 billion cut the Defense Department will sustain in 2013 should Congress not agree on a deficit reduction plan to avoid sequestration by Jan. 2.

The report detailed the 9.4 percent cuts attached to Defense Department discretionary spending in 2013. This makes up the majority of Pentagon funds to include operations and maintenance, research, and procurement budgets. Another 10 percent will be cut from all mandatory defense programs -- the few accounts not subject to congressional appropriations.

The sequester could will affect how many weapons, bullets and missiles troops carry into combat. The cuts will also dictate how many new houses are built on bases and how much is invested in new commissaries.

As promised by President Obama, funding for military personnel accounts to include pay will not be subject to sequester cuts. Department of Veterans Affairs funding has also received an exemption.

Congress and the White House must come to an agreement to make a $1.2 trillion cut to the federal deficit by Jan. 2 to avoid the sequester cuts dictated by law and agreed upon by the Republicans and Democrats. Otherwise, Congress must pass a bill providing an exception to the military. Democrats have stood staunchly against such a move warning it would come at the cost of other domestic programs.

The $54.7 billion cut is only part of the $500 billion cut to the Defense Department dictated by sequestration legislation and spread over the next decade. Military leaders "would be able to shift funds to ensure war fighting and critical military readiness capabilities were not degraded," the report stated.

However, such shifts in funding will come at the cost of non-deployed units as well as other programs to include base services to military families, the report specified. Sequestration cuts will tear into military procurement and modernization funds as the services try to maintain readiness levels for units training for combat.

The Defense Department stands to lose $3.8 billion from its operations and maintenance account out of the $41.2 billion set aside for it in 2013.

The Navy's shipbuilding account will decrease by $2.1 billion. The Marine Corp' entire procurement account will be cut by $366 million.

The Air Force's aircraft procurement budget will get slashed by $2 billion while Air Force leaders also stand to lose $668 million from their missile procurement account.

The Army will buy $229 million less in ammunition as its spends $276 million less on tracked combat vehicles.

On base housing construction will shrink by $54 million in 2013 while operations and maintenance for on base housing will be slashed by another $121 million.

“No amount of planning can mitigate the effect of these cuts,” officials from the White House Office of Management and Budget wrote in the report. “Sequestration is a blunt and indiscriminate instrument. It is not the responsible way for our nation to achieve deficit reduction.”

The lengthy document the White House delivered one week late from the deadline specified by Congress simply subtracts the funding the Defense Department and other federal agencies are scheduled to receive from the percentages the sequestration legislation dictates will be lost.

Republicans ripped the report saying it does not provide Congress the details they are seeking. House Armed Service Committee Chairman Howard P. "Buck" McKeon, R-Calif., questioned why the White House needed an extra week to submit the report.

"I can't understand why they needed an extra week to produce such an inadequate report," he said in a statement.

White House officials told reporters on a conference call the Office of Management and Budget waited to issue the detailed report because leaders felt energy would be better spent working toward an agreement to avoid the execution of the sequestration cuts.

The White House did hedge in the report saying the estimates found in it are not final.

"If the sequestration were to occur, the actual results would differ based on changes in law and ongoing legal, budgetary, and technical analysis," the report states. "However, the report leaves no question that the sequestration would be deeply destructive to national security, domestic investments, and core government functions."

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