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Senate Republican Plan Faces Long Odds in Reversing Automatic Defense Cuts

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  • December 14, 2011
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Prospects for a plan by five Republican senators to undo the $500 billion in across-the-board defense cuts triggered by the supercommittee’s failure are not particularly high, primarily because the lawmakers favor replacing the cuts with reductions in discretionary spending from other agencies over tax increases.

The group — which includes Jon Kyl (Ariz.), a member of the supercommittee, and Armed Services Committee ranking member John McCain (Ariz.) — intends to rely on savings proposals from previous deficit-reduction exercises.

“We do not intend to prevent the $1.2 trillion in deficit reduction called for by the Budget Control Act from being achieved; but we do intend to do it in a more responsible way,” according to a joint statement the lawmakers issued Wednesday.

President Obama has pledged to veto any effort to undo the sequester unless it were paired with a package that reduces the nation’s debt over the coming decade by at least $1.2 trillion. As a result, the attempt by the five senators would need to attract bipartisan support.

Kyl said he believes that an ample number of Democrats in both chambers will vote in favor of reversing the automatic defense cuts, reported the Hill newspaper.

But congressional Democrats, including ardent supporters of the military, would oppose a bill to nullify the defense cuts that did not include new federal revenues, according to the story.

Averting sequestration will require a balanced deal that cuts the deficit by $1.2 trillion over the next decade, House Armed Services ranking member Adam Smith (D-Wash.) told the Hill. “Simply sparing one portion of the budget at the expense of another important portion of the budget is a short-sighted and imprudent approach that does not appreciate the size and scope of our problem — and it would merely delay or avoid addressing our budget challenges.”

For Kyl’s part, Congress needs to act on the group’s bill “at the beginning of the year … not the end” to make it clear that the Defense Department does not need to plan for the sequestration cuts scheduled to start in January 2013.

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