By Jeremy Herb - 02/01/12 11:02 PM EST
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 McCain (Ariz), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John Cornyn (Texas) and Kelly Ayotte (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.
Senate Armed Services Chairman Carl Levin (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.