Top HASC Dem drafts alternative sequester plan

Smith's plan essentially waives the $1.2 trillion in total spending cuts called for under sequestration, half of which will come from Department of Defense coffers, and cancel the March 1 deadline set by the White House for when the cuts are triggered. 

ADVERTISEMENT
In exchange, the Smith proposal calls for a total of $320 billion in spending reductions, half of which would still come from Pentagon budgets but only to the tune of $167 billion over eight years. 

The remaining $153 billion under the Washington Republican's plan would be drawn from "all other areas of discretionary spending" during that same time frame, according to a statement issued Wednesday.  

While the $320 billion in cuts included in the plan would only equal one-third of the $1.2 trillion in reductions outlined in the sequester, it does ensure that "discretionary spending accounts, and the economy, are no longer held hostage" by Congress in the larger fight over proposed tax increases and spending cuts, Smith said.

"We have a deficit problem that must be addressed, but we should not damage our economy and undermine national security in the process,” he added. 

Smith's plan is only the latest in several, last-minute proposals offered by both parties in the House to stave off the massive, indiscriminate cuts under the sequestration plan. 

House defense panel member Rep. Randy Forbes (R-Va.) on Monday released his own plan, which cut the total costs of the cuts under sequester in half by eliminating any cuts to defense or national security coffers once sequester is triggered on Friday. 

“Lawmakers in Washington have crossed a red line in our constitutional duty ... to provide for the common defense,” Forbes said in a statement. 

"This bill represents an opportunity for lawmakers to blunt sequestration's debilitating impact on national defense," he added. 

A proposal by Rep. Mike Coffman (R-Colo.) does not include any reductions to the defense cuts called for under sequester, but allows the DOD to decide where those cuts would come from. Eliminating the indiscriminate nature of the cuts will better help the department deal with the reductions, according to Coffman. 

House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) also introduced legislation earlier this month to avoid the first year of sequestration by cutting the size of the federal workforce. 

That said, it is highly unlikely any of the House-proposed sequester plans will make it through the Democratically-controlled Senate.