Washington D.C.House Armed Services Committee Ranking Member Adam Smith made the following statement at this morning’s hearings on the impacts of a continuing resolution and sequestration on defense:

“I would like to thank our witnesses for attending this hearing today.

“Since the so-called Super Committee failed to reach an agreement, the perils of sequestration have been apparent, but a deal to avoid its effects has been elusive. It is clear that, so far, sequestration has failed to motivate Congress to adopt sound fiscal policy. Now, we have hit a critical point in the effort to resolve our budgetary problems.

“We have repeatedly heard from our military leaders that sequestration will be damaging to national security. I agree with Secretary Panetta’s description of sequestration as a “disaster in terms of the Defense Department.”  Damage has also already been done to our economy.

“I think everyone in this room can agree that sequestration must be prevented. It is clear that large, indiscriminate, across-the-board cuts to the federal budget would have serious implications for national security, our economy and a wide range of important federal programs. The damage from sequestration compounds the uncertainty created by funding the federal government, particularly the Department of Defense, through a Continuing Resolution.    

 “Without a doubt, we need to take action to reduce the federal debt and deficit, but that cannot and should not be done through sequestration. Our economy is still fragile, too fragile to absorb such a blow, and our national security is too important. Reducing federal spending by lopping off the top of the federal budget without any discretion is bad government and fundamentally irresponsible. Congress should move toward a solution that reduces spending and that provides new revenues for sustaining important federal programs that ensure national security and our long-term economic viability.

“While hearings like this are useful, to an extent, we have already established that sequestration would be bad. I share the view that informing the American people of sequestration’s harmful effects may be useful in pushing Congress to fix the problem it created, but it is time to stop talking and take immediate action to stave off the impending disaster that would occur should sequestration be implemented. There is too much at stake.

Sequestration is coming.  The first of March is only a few legislative days away, and the prospects for severe damage to national security and our economy are real. Congress must act now to remove the threat of sequestration once and for all. Our economy and national security are at stake.