WASHINGTON -- A hearing on Capitol Hill Thursday offered Senator Tim Kaine (D-Virginia) the opportunity to address Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta about a decision to delay indefinitely the deployment of Norfolk-based USS Harry S. Truman.

The aircraft carrier was supposed to leave for the Persian Gulf Friday, but the Department of Defense called it off because of budget concerns. March 1, automatic cuts of about $500 billion are set to take effect. Those are in addition to cuts already being made that total $487 billion.

'I gather we're likely to see a whole lot of things like the Truman announcement yesterday that would potentially weaken our readiness, demoralize our active duty men and women, and leave us less safe unless we find an alternative to sequester,' Kaine said to Panetta.

Sequestration, the mechanism behind those cuts automatic, was approved by Congress as a way to force it to pass a budget.

'There is no reason why an arbitrary legislative mechanism that was designed not because it was good policy but because it was bad policy to drive action should now take place,' Panetta stated. 'If we go into sequester, then we are going to have to take steps to implement these -- another $500 billion in cuts -- in a way that will -- make no mistake -- hollow out the force and weaken the United States of America as a military power. We don't have to do that. This is a self-inflicted wound. We do not have to do this.'

Kaine and others on Capitol Hill including Senator Mark Warner (D-Virginia) are working to find alternatives to the sequestration measure upon which a majority of Congress will agree.

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