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 McCainEpiPen investigation shows need for greater pricing transparency, other reforms Green Beret awarded for heroism during 'pandemonium' of Boston bombing House passes bill exempting some from ObamaCare mandate MORE (Ariz), Lindsey Graham (S.C.), John CornynJohn CornynObama defeat is Schumer victory Dems gain upper hand on budget McConnell: Senate could drop flood money from spending bill MORE (Texas) and Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteDems gain upper hand on budget GOP senators hit FBI on early probe of NY bombing suspect Senate rivals gear up for debates 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 LevinThe Fed and a return to banking simplicity What Our presidential candidates can learn from Elmo Zumwalt Will there be a 50-50 Senate next year? 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.