Senators begin new push to overturn sequestration

Greg Nash

Members of the Senate Armed Services Committee are planning to begin a new effort to overturn defense budget cuts known as sequestration, according to several senators. 

"There's going to be discussion coming up among all the members of the committee informally," said Sen. Carl Levin, committee chairman. "We're all going to have a chance to throw out ideas."

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If sequestration is not lifted by 2016, the Army will have to cut its active duty end strength to 420,000 and retire a Navy aircraft carrier. 

Sequestration doubled planned defense cuts of $487 billion over the next decade as part of the 2011 Budget Control Act, when lawmakers failed to agree on tax and spending reform. 

There has been partial relief since the cuts kicked in for 2013, and through 2015, but they will hit in full beginning in 2016. 

Sen. Angus King (I-Maine) had first publicly floated the idea of working on overturning the cuts during a committee hearing April 2, although Levin told The Hill the idea was already in the works. 

"I think the committee a) it's broadly representative of both caucuses, b) it's bipartisan, and c) the Armed Services Committee probably has the most direct intimate knowledge of the impacts of the sequester of any direct Senate committee because more than half the sequester is in defense, so that was the reason I made that suggestion," King said Tuesday. 

"I don't know where it's going. I just wanted to open up a discussion in the committee about what to do about sequester instead of just complaining about it," he said. 

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