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Panetta criticizes Congress' initial budget moves

Panetta criticizes Congress' initial defense budget changes, pleads with Senate panel for help By The Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) ' Defense Secretary Leon Panetta is criticizing the first round of changes that lawmakers have made in President Barack Obama's proposed military budget.

Testifying Wednesday in the Senate, Panetta said the versions of the defense budget that have emerged from the House and the Senate Armed Services Committee would force him to find money to maintain old weapons, aircraft and ships. He said that step would result in a hollowing out of the force.

Panetta said "there's no free lunch" as the Pentagon deals with a deficit-driven reduction in projected spending of $492 billion over a decade.

He appealed to members of the Senate Appropriations Committee to follow the Defense Department's budget recommendations as it crafts a spending plan for the fiscal year beginning Oct. 1.

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