The two lawmakers, who serve on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said Obama is playing politics by refusing to work with Congress on a solution until after the November election. 

“The responsibility to avert this crisis is shared, and the time to negotiate a solution is now — not after the November election,” McCain and Ayotte said. “Among our biggest obstacles to doing so is the President’s failure to lead. President Obama signed into law the legislation that put into place the cuts slated to occur on January 2nd. He has a solemn responsibility — and duty — as Commander in Chief to help devise a solution that averts this disaster and protects our nation’s security.”

Republicans have said such large cuts to the defense budget could risk the nation’s security.

“President Obama either doesn't understand or doesn't care about the devastating impact that the defense cuts under budget sequestration will have on our national defense, which right now are set to kick in on January 2nd of next year,” McCain and Ayotte said. “The president’s own Secretary of Defense has said repeatedly that sequestration would be ‘catastrophic’ and ‘devastating’ to our military’s readiness to defend America, and called it a ‘blind, mindless formula that … risks hollowing out the force.’ ”

Obama announced that salaries and benefits of service members wouldn’t be affected by the cuts — meaning cuts would run deeper into new equipment and development. 

Members of Congress from both sides of the aisle have expressed an interest in finding an alternative to the sequestration deal agreed to by Congress, but it would be difficult to find an agreement that both chambers would approve.