WASHINGTON (AP) - Defense Secretary Robert Gates says he is willing to settle for a smaller Pentagon budget this year than the administration originally requested, but insisted that the total -
not counting war costs - cannot be less than $540 billion. That is about $9 billion less than the White House first requested.
Gates was referring to this year's budget, which has not been approved by the Congress. Instead the Pentagon has been required to stick to last year's spending level.
Gates said this requirement has been damaging and, if not fixed, may soon turn into a crisis.
Gates made his remarks while presenting the administration's defense spending proposal for the next budget year, which begins in
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