Rumsfeld refrains from releasing details of revised Defense budget

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld told members of the Senate Armed Forces Committee Thursday that he would not discuss proposed revisions to the fiscal 2002 Defense Department budget until later this summer. Committee members pressed Rumsfeld to deliver his revised budget to them by Wednesday. Rumsfeld, who is still conducting several department-wide reviews, told the committee that he would spend the next two months testing the detailed strategy guidance he and other defense officials have created for inclusion in the Quadrennial Defense Review, which is required by Congress every four years. "We will test those ideas through the QDR process against different scenarios and models, and will discuss our ideas and findings with the members of this committee," Rumsfeld said. Sen. Carl Levin, D-Mich, chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee protested, telling Rumsfeld the time frame described would not give lawmakers enough time to review proposed spending increases before the start of fiscal 2002. "I see little reason for the continuing delay," Levin said. Sen. John Warner, R-Va., commended Rumsfeld and called his efforts to craft a defense strategy "courageous." "You are trying, in my opinion, to do the right thing," Warner said. But Warner pressed Rumsfeld for specifics about how the 2002 defense budget would expand President Bush's agenda. Rumsfeld said the ideas scheduled for testing in the QDR process would help the Defense Department recover from "investment shortfalls in people, morale, infrastructure, and equipment," and would improve the Pentagon's ability to retain and recruit talent. Sen. Pat Roberts, R-Kan., asked Rumsfeld to consult Congress as he continues his review.
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