Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has accused the White House of attempting to keep defense contractors in the dark about the possibility of impending funding cuts.
Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter called the sequester “senseless chaos” designed to prod Congress to act on the deficit and noted that it was intended to be irrational.
Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), however, fumed over the lack of layoff notices.
“I guess the conclusion is that the administration doesn’t believe Americans deserve the common courtesy of being given a couple months’ notice before they lose their jobs,” he said.
OMB Director Jeffrey Zients urged Congress to reach a deal to avoid the sequester.
“The right course is not to spend time moving around rocks at the bottom of the cliff to make for a less painful landing,” he said. “The right course is to avoid driving off the cliff altogether.”
Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) challenged Zients. “So is it your thought that sequestration, with all of its atrocities, even though it may be in effect holding national defense blackmail, is a proper tool if it forces deficit reduction?”
“There are five months remaining for Congress to act,” Zients said. “What is holding us up right now is the Republican refusal to have the top 2 percent pay their fair share.”
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.