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Will Obama Play Politics With Sequester Report Deadline?

The White House is required to release a report this week detailing how the sequestration cuts to defense actually will be executed. The outline — which will help shape 2013 budget and employment decisions for the Pentagon and defense industry — was initially supposed to be released today, according to multiple reports and the Bipartisan Policy Center. Of course, that would almost certainly have conflicted with Obama’s attempts to play up his national security record at the convention — so it’s no surprise it’s nowhere to be found on the OMB website this afternoon.

“On and off the Hill, many suspect the Obama Administration will quietly drop the sequestration transparency report on Friday in close-of-business ‘data dump’ with little fanfare, perhaps sending the report only to House and Senate leadership,” said Robert Zarate, policy director at the Foreign Policy Initiative. “But once the report gets to the Hill, you can expect lawmakers on both sides of the sequestration debate to start aggressively posturing and messaging.”

According to House Speaker John Boehner’s office, the absolute deadline for the report is tomorrow, but there’s a chance Obama may delay it further.

“Tomorrow (September 7) is the deadline, which has us wondering…will President Obama comply with the Sequestration Transparency Act he signed into law?” asked Don Seymour, digital communications director for Boehner, in an email blast. “The administration has repeatedly ignored requests from Congress for ‘sequester’ information, even as top officials admit the defense cuts the White House demanded – in an effort to ensure the president wouldn’t face another debt limit vote before the election – would jeopardize our national security.”

Meanwhile, DoD Buzz reports that the administration could actually end up dragging its feet for a couple of weeks:

The White House Office of Management and Budget is scheduled to release a detailed report specifying how sequestration cuts will affect the Pentagon after President Obama ordered the report in August. Capitol Hill sources expect to see the report in the next couple weeks.

Although Kendall tried to simplify the complexity of the cuts with simple arithmetic, the defense industry is eager to see what the OMB report will contain. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has told Congress the military has done minimal planning because of the simplicity of the across the board cut.

The impact of the cuts should be clearer once the report comes out, assuming the Office of Management and Budget provides sufficient detail. President Obama may not want this to drop the week of his convention, but the targeted industries and the general public deserve to see the specifics by the required deadline.



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