GOP senators to release plan to stop triggered defense cuts

Five Republican senators will release their plan Thursday morning to stop as much as $500 billion in automatic cuts to defense spending slated to take effect in 2013.

The senators — Jon Kyl (Ariz.), John McCainJohn Sidney McCainOvernight Defense: Pompeo lays out new Iran terms | Pentagon hints at more aggressive posture against Iran | House, Senate move on defense bill Senate GOP urges Trump administration to work closely with Congress on NAFTA Sarah Sanders: ‘Democrats are losing their war against women in the Trump administration’ MORE (Ariz), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John CornynJohn CornynHouse easily passes prison reform bill backed by Trump Senate panel clears bill to bolster probes of foreign investment deals McConnell tells senators he might scrap August recess MORE (Texas) and Kelly AyotteKelly Ann AyotteThe Hill's Morning Report: Koch Network re-evaluating midterm strategy amid frustrations with GOP Audit finds US Defense Department wasted hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars US sends A-10 squadron to Afghanistan for first time in three years MORE (N.H.) — did not release details of their legislation ahead of the press conference Thursday. The bill's title, “Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2012,” suggests that the bill will change the sequestration cuts for only a short period, and not wipe out the full $500 billion cut over 10 years.

That would follow a similar proposal from House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), who introduced a bill in December to undo the first year of sequestration cuts to both defense and non-defense spending by trimming the federal workforce over 10 years by 10 percent.

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McKeon’s proposal, however, was panned by Democrats, who say that the sequestration should not be changed unless tax increases are on the table.

Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl LevinCarl Milton LevinHow House Republicans scrambled the Russia probe Congress dangerously wields its oversight power in Russia probe The Hill's Morning Report — Sponsored by CVS Health — Trump’s love-hate relationship with the Senate MORE (D-Mich.) said last week that the sequestration should not be split up. By taking it on the whole, Levin said, it will have its intended effect of forcing a deal on the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction needed to do away with the full sequester.

Levin predicted that the GOP would change their staunch opposition to raising taxes in order to erase sequestration.

Republicans argue that the Pentagon budget is already taking a $487 billion hit in the next decade that was agreed in the debt deal, and the military would be decimated if there were another $500 billion in cuts.

While most budget watchers predict nothing will get done on sequestration until after the election in a lame duck session, McKeon, McCain and other Republicans say the Pentagon and defense industry can’t afford the year of uncertainty that would bring.