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Hagel calls govt shutdown threat 'shortsighted'

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LOLITA C. BALDOR | September 28, 2013 08:46 PM EST | AP

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ABOARD A U.S. MILITARY AIRCRAFT — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is criticizing Congress as "astoundingly irresponsible," and says that using threats to shut down the government to satisfy a political whim is dangerously shortsighted.

Hagel oversees as much as half of the government civilians who would be furloughed next week if Congress fails to agree on a short-term spending plan to keep the government running. Roughly 400,000 Defense Department civilians could face furloughs.

The defense secretary tells reporters that the impasse threatens to delay paychecks to troops serving in Afghanistan. He also warns that such actions will lead to the United States of America becoming a country that's "ungovernable."

Hagel made the comments Saturday while flying to South Korea for meetings with top defense and diplomatic leaders from South Korea and Japan.