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Senators clash over more Pentagon cuts; Defense leaders warn of greater risks
WASHINGTON (AP) ' Leading senators on the Budget Committee are clashing over whether to make deeper cuts in the Pentagon budget, even as defense officials warn that additional reductions will hit the 50 states and increase national security risks.
Democratic Sen. Kent Conrad, the committee chairman, says that given the country's fiscal crisis more savings must be found in the core defense budget. The panel's top Republican, Sen. Jeff Sessions, says America's budget can't be balanced with just Pentagon cuts. He says that escalating costs of entitlement programs must be addressed.
Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, who was once chairman of the budget panel, says he can find the planned savings of $487 billion over next 10 years. But he said any more than that would hamper the military's ability to meet future threats.