Shell Game: Congress, the Pentagon and Defense Sequestration

Shell Game: Congress, the Pentagon and Defense Sequestration
Senate Armed Services Committee Chairman Sen. John McCain welcomes Ashton Carter, President Barack Obama’s choice to be defense secretary, before the panel to consider his nomination, Washington, Feb. 4, 2015 (AP photo by J. Scott Applewhite).

The Budget Control Act of 2011 (BCA), passed by the U.S. Congress and signed by President Barack Obama to resolve that year’s debt-ceiling crisis, instituted spending caps on the federal discretionary budget, including on defense, a traditional Republican priority. As an incentive for compromise, the legislation also established a lower set of caps that would come into force should Congress fail to reach an agreement on further spending reductions. Failure to respect these limits in any year’s budget appropriations would trigger automatic across-the-board cuts, known as sequestration, against which the initial BCA caps would pale in comparison. Defense sequestration, in […]

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