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GOP Plans to Avoid Automatic Defense Cuts

US Department of Defense(WASHINGTON) -- Remember the failure of the debt-reduction supercommittee? Members of Congress do, too -- and they are already looking for ways to avoid the devastating, across-the-board spending cuts that will kick in early next year.

Five Republican senators Thursday announced a plan to replace the first year of automatic defense cuts, known as sequestration, because of the failure of the supercommittee to broker a deal late last year.

The “Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2012” plan would provide $127 billion in savings for this year through attrition, hiring two federal employees for every three that leave federal service and extending the current federal employee freeze, which includes members of Congress, for an additional year and a half.

As negotiated during the debt ceiling debate, the failure of the supercommittee to come up with at least $1.2 trillion in cuts last November is set to trigger cuts starting in January 2013 in defense and domestic spending.  This plan announced Thursday would replace the $110 billion in across-the-board federal spending cuts for 2013 -- for just one year.

“I believe the cuts that would be required by sequestration aimed at the Department of Defense are a threat to our nation’s security and we are opposed to that draconian action,” Sen. John McCain, R- Ariz., told reporters Thursday, “as is the secretary of defense and others.”

Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta has said that the impacts of these automatic across-the-board sequestration cuts would be “devastating” for the department.

“[Panetta] either needs to be fired because he’s so off base or we need to listen to him and fix the problem,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C.

“We still live in a very dangerous world and everyone agrees that this kind of sequestration cannot take place,” McCain said.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

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