The Pentagon on Monday sought to distance itself from the growing rancor between the White House and congressional Republicans over the delay of a much anticipated administration report on sequestration due on Capitol Hill this month.
Defense Department (DOD) officials have sent all information regarding the potential impact of the $500 billion in automatic defense cuts under the sequestration plan, Pentagon spokesman George Little told reporters Monday.
The report is part of the Sequestration Transparency Act signed by Congress in August. The legislation directs the administration to explain how it will implement the $109 billion in automatic cuts — half of which will come from DOD coffers — mandated by the Budget Control Act.
But that highly sought report won't arrive on Capitol Hill until next week — a week later than the congressionally mandated deadline — White House spokesman Jay Carney told reporters on Friday.
However, according to Little, DOD has done its part and in the end "it's up to [the administration] to submit that information to [Capitol] Hill."
News of the delay sparked harsh criticism from several GOP lawmakers, who have accused the administration of delaying efforts to find a solution to avert the impending cuts.
Democrats, though, say Republicans are using the defense cuts under sequestration as a political weapon against President Obama's bid for a second term in the White House.
“The sequester originated from this White House, yet it refuses to level with the American people about the devastating impact it will have on our country,” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) said in a statement.
“The American people deserve to know the president’s plan for implementing these cuts, some of which our military leaders have said will compromise our nation’s ability to protect itself,” Sen. John Thune (R-S.D.) added.
Democrats quickly seized upon an apparent ideological rift between GOP presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and his vice presidential nominee, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), over the issue of sequestration.
On Sunday, Ryan defended his vote for the Budget Control Act and the sequestration plan built into that legislation.
The "yes" vote for the BCA was not an endorsement of sequestration but rather a vote in support of deficit reduction, Ryan explained during an interview on CBS's "Face the Nation."
But his comments seemingly ran counter to the Romney camp's persistent attacks on the Obama administration over sequestration and its devastating effects to U.S. national security.
Romney placed blame on both the White House and congressional Republicans for the law.
“I thought it was a mistake on the part of the White House to propose it," Romney said on NBC's "Meet the Press" on Sunday, adding that "it was a mistake" for Republicans — including Ryan — to vote for the BCA and sequestration.
—Jeremy Herb contributed to this report.