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Aug. 3, 2011—President Obama on Tuesday signed the Budget Control Act of 2011 into law. This legislation raises the debt ceiling between $2.1 trillion and $2.4 trillion so that the US government will not default on its bills.

The act also establishes discretionary spending limits for the period of Fiscal 2012 to Fiscal 2021, although it's not exactly clear what the ramifications will be for the Defense Department.

USA Today reported Tuesday that the budget act could result in DOD cuts of up to $900 billion over 10 years, more than doubling the $400 billion in cuts for DOD over 12 years that Obama proposed in April.

Conversely, McClatchy Newspapers reported (via the Kansas City Star) that the Pentagon actually could benefit from the legislation. Instead of the proposed $400 billion reduction, McClatchy claims that the debt plan might only trim $350 billion.

Adm. Mike Mullen, Joint Chiefs Chairman, said Tuesday the recent debt debate and resolution of the debt ceiling, for now, were "important first steps" in attacking the growing national debt, which Mullen and other senior defense leaders have characterized as the biggest threat to national security.

"It is up to Congress . . . to figure out how to move ahead with regard to the debt," Mullen said during a news conference in Baghdad.

The day before, Mullen told marines and sailors at Camp Leatherneck, Afghanistan, that defense cuts would be felt across the board. He also cautioned against down-sizing US military forces too quickly, saying he wants to avoid the "hollow force of the 1970s," according to an AFPS release.

(Budget Control Act of 2011 full text; caution, large-sized file.)