McKeon asks OMB why sequester is delaying Pentagon budget

“If sequester was not enough of a threat to do any planning or comply with the law, I can only assume it is not enough of a threat to delay your budget,” McKeon wrote.

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The letter comes as the White House told Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) Monday that it would not meet the Feb. 4 deadline for the budget that's required by law.

The Obama administration said the overall 2014 budget delay was due to the late passage of the “fiscal cliff” deal, saying that because tax and spending issues were not resolved until Jan. 2, "the administration was forced to delay some of its FY 2014 budget preparations, which in turn will delay the budget's submission to Congress."

For the Pentagon, the situation is even more precarious, with across-the-board spending cuts still up in the air that could cut the DOD budget another $45 billion in the 2013 fiscal year.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced last week the Pentagon was taking steps ahead of sequestration to try and curb its impact on the defense budget, which included a civilian hiring freeze, delays on some contracts and cutbacks on travel.

McKeon asked why DOD was able to submit a budget in 2013 with the same “unforgiving fiscal terrain.”

He quoted Pentagon Comptroller Robert Hale’s testimony before the Armed Services Committee last year on the 2014 budget request, when Hale said there were no changes in the OMB guidance on the budget and sequestration was not being taken into consideration.

“If you have provided no planning assumptions related to sequestration to the federal agencies, I am unclear on the need to delay the request pending resolution of sequestration.”

McKeon and Zients have battled over sequestration planning before, as Zients testified before the Armed Services panel last year in one of the committee’s more heated hearings in recent memory, which devolved at times into a near-shouting match between Zients and Republican lawmakers.

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