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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 26th, 2014
12:57 PM ET

Hagel: Narrow Partisans Blocking Defense Modernization

Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel blamed Congress’ “partisan political narrow interests” for blocking the modernization of the US Armed Forces.

"I can't make tough choices within the limits of the dollar figure I have and then have no cooperation with Congress saying no, no, no, no," Hagel said."

According to Hagel, the Defense Department should be ‘build[ing] for the future” but special interests in Congress require the agency to hold on to decades-old systems that are unnecessary and expensive.

Hagel continued, “Modernization, readiness, two big pieces that have no constituency.  Weapons systems have constituencies.  Numbers have constituencies because those translate into political dimensions for a congressman."

The Defense Secretary said that the sequester and Congress’ insistence on funding outdated weapons systems put the agency in a double bind – unable to afford to modernize while required to maintain politically favored programs without sufficient resources.

Hagel questioned Congress’ actions, saying, “Why have [members of Congress] continued to cut our budget by tens of billions of dollars and not allow us the flexibility of prioritizing, where we think we need to go within the limits of the resources?”

For Hagel, the situation means “tough choices” lie ahead for the Pentagon.

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