WASHINGTON, Dec. 12 (Xinhua) -- U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Thursday lobbied the House of Representatives from the podium of the Pentagon to pass the budget deal later in the Thursday afternoon, saying the agreement helps address troop readiness and signal to allies that "we are going to come together as a country."
Speaking at a press conference with visiting Singapore Defense Minister Ng Eng Hen, Hagel said the budget agreement, announced late Tuesday by Senate Budget Committee Chairman Patty Murray and House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan, does not solve all of Pentagon's budget problems, but it "helps us address our readiness, especially in 2014, with putting more money back into training... and procurement.
The deal "gives us some new certainty and predictability for our planning, for our budgeting over the next two years," said Hagel, adding it is also a signal to partners and allies around the world that "we are going to come together as a country, as a Congress, and make some tough choices and decisions and commit resources where we have to commit them."
The deal sets spending levels above 1 trillion U.S. dollars for the next two fiscal years while replacing part of the automatic spending cuts with some spending savings, to the relieve of the Pentagon, which bears the brunt of the automatic cuts known as sequestration. The House is expected to vote on the deal later Thursday.
In a statement earlier Thursday, Hagel said "the Department of Defense has been warning about the impact of sequestration's steep, deep, and abrupt cuts for months, and I'm pleased that Congress has been willing to work in a bipartisan manner to limit its worst impacts. I urge Congress to promptly act on a balanced agreement."