1 of 2 | An F/A-18 Hornet aircraft, assigned to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 312, launches off the flight deck of USS Harry S. Truman on September 15, 2009. UPI/Matthew Williams/U.S. Navy | License Photo
WASHINGTON, Feb. 7 (UPI) -- The U.S. Defense Department said it was delaying the deployment of two warships to the Middle East because of budgetary concerns.
Lawmakers in Washington are at odds over how to avert a series of spending cuts involving billions of dollars of defense funds.
Pentagon spokesman George Little said U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta delayed the deployment of the aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman and guided-missile cruiser USS Gettysburg to the U.S. Central Command area of responsibility.
"Facing budget uncertainty -- including a continuing resolution and the looming potential for across-the-board sequestration cuts -- the U.S. Navy made this request to the secretary and he approved," Little said in a statement.
Panetta, speaking at Georgetown University, said he feared politicians were playing a dangerous game of brinkmanship in order to blame rival leaders should they miss a March deadline to make a budget deal.
"This is no way to govern the United States of America," he said.
Panetta said if the series of budget cuts known as sequestration occurs, as many as 800,000 Defense Department civilian employees would be furloughed.