Panetta to meet with lawmakers before releasing details of Defense budget cuts

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta will announce details of the Pentagon’s budget to House and Senate congressional defense leaders Wednesday evening, congressional aides confirmed.

The evening meeting with defense committee heads will occur at the Pentagon before Panetta announces the first details of the Pentagon’s 2013 budget Thursday.

The 2013 budget is the first that will grapple with a $487 billion cut to Pentagon spending over the next decade. That doesn’t include a potential $500 billion cut through sequestration starting in January 2013 if Congress does not agree to reach $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction.

The 2013 budget will not reflect the potential sequestration cuts, but it will still be a reduction of nearly $50 billion from the $571 billion projected for 2013 in last year’s budget. The base Defense budget is expected to be about $525 billion, a slight decrease from the $531 billion Congress appropriated for 2012.

Panetta is expected to reveal some of the weapons programs that will be cut in the 2013 budget, including an Air Force drone, as well as discuss troop reductions in the Army and Marines.

— This story was updated at 12:50 p.m.