“We believe it is imperative to enact a bipartisan deficit reduction package to avoid the severe economic damage that would result from the implementation of sequestration,” the letter stated.

Because Congress has not been able to come to agreement on an overall deficit-reduction package, automatic spending cuts in defense and domestic programs are set to effect on Jan. 1 — unless lawmakers act.

The senators said they want a long-term deficit package to provide certainty to businesses and consumers. They also expressed concern about job losses in the private sector if there are major cuts in defense contracting.

“Sequestration will endanger the lives of America's service members, threaten our national security, and impact vital domestic programs and services,” the letter stated. “Meeting this challenge will require real compromise, and we do not believe that Congress and the president can afford to wait until January to begin to develop a short term or long term sequestration alternative.”

Lawmakers have been saying that preventing the sequestration cuts is top priority when they return after the November elections for the lame-duck session, but some Democrats have said they’re willing to let the cuts go into effect, as well as allow the Bush-era tax rates expire, in order to get Republicans to agree to raise taxes on the wealthiest citizens. Republicans have been unwilling to increase any revenues.