- The Washington Times - Thursday, February 2, 2012

Senate Republicans on Thursday introduced a bill that would undo the first year of automatic defense spending cuts set to begin in 2013 under sequestration.

The “Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2012” would erase $110 billion in spending cuts by extending the federal employee pay freeze through June 2014 and hiring only one federal worker for every three who retire until the workforce is reduced by 5 percent.

The bill was introduced by Republican Sens. Jon Kyl and John McCain, both of Arizona; Lindsay Graham of South Carolina; John Cornyn of Texas; Kelly Ayotte of New Hampshire; and Marco Rubio of Florida.

“As Congress considers funding for the next fiscal year, we should at least be able to agree to one year in targeted spending reductions, instead of the draconian, across-the-board cuts resulting from sequestration,” a joint statement by the senators reads.

Sequestration is the term for automatic, across-the-board cuts in federal spending of $1.2 trillion over the next 10 years beginning in 2013, as a result of Congress’ failure to reach a deficit reduction deal in November.

The Pentagon already is slated to cut about $500 billion from its budget over the next decade. Under sequestration, the Pentagon would be required to cut an additional $500 billion in spending.

The Senate bill is similar to a House bill introduced last December, the “Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2011,” which also aims to undo just the first year of defense cuts under sequestration.

The House bill proposes saving $127 billion by cutting the federal workforce by 10 percent over the next decade, and hiring one employee for every three who retire.

House Democratic aides called the legislation short-sighted, and said they want to see a larger approach to addressing the nation’s deficit problems.