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Panetta makes last-minute bid against 'needless' DOD programs in defense bill

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta made a last-minute plea to Congress on Tuesday to strip out billions of dollars in "needless" spending on unnecessary weapons programs, just as lawmakers put the final touches on the Pentagon's budget bill for fiscal year 2013. 

In both the House and Senate versions of the legislation, defense lawmakers have inserted $74 billion toward a number of weapons programs "that have outlived their usefulness" to the department, Panetta said in a speech at the National Press Club in Washington. 

"I expressed concerns about the [legislation], which needlessly divert $74 billion over the next decade into programs, equipment and activities we don’t want or need," the DOD chief said. 

Read more on The Hill's DEFCON Hill blog.