Bill would cut workforce to avoid first-year sequestration

A Republican congressman has proposed a new plan that aims to slash 10 percent of the federal workforce to avoid the first year of sequestration cuts to the Defense Department.

Rep. Howard "Buck" McKeon (R-Calif.) introduced Dec. 14 the Down Payment to Protect National Security Act that would reduce one-tenth of the government workforce over 10 years by hiring only one federal employee for every three who retire. The legislation aims to apply the savings to pay for one year of sequestration, for defense and non-defense categories.


Related story:

What does sequestration really mean for DOD?


The failure of the so-called supercommittee to identify $1.2 trillion dollars in savings over 10 years triggered automatic sequestration that would cut military funding by $500 billion.

“The troops simply don’t have any more to give,” said McKeon, who also serves as chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “It is time we address our debt crisis sensibly, by literally shrinking the size of government. At the same time, we will meet our commitment to saving $1.2 trillion over 10 years. That should be enough to persuade the commander in chief to put politics aside and protect our troops.”

One of the bill’s co-sponsors, Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-Tenn.), said along with attrition and extending the federal pay freeze for another three years, the act could save $234 billion.

“This legislation is another in a long line of pro-defense, common-sense legislation that works to protect our strength and position in the world while making substantive and common-sense cuts to the expanding bureaucracy,” she said.

But the bill, which addresses only the first year of sequestration, is unlikely to get President Barack Obama’s signature. In November, he vowed to veto any measure that would decrease the impact of sequestration.

“There will be no easy off-ramps on this one,” he said then. “We need to keep the pressure up to compromise, not turn off the pressure.”

But those threats fell on deaf ears on some of the Republican lawmakers, who questioned the validity of Obama’s veto pledge. “I cannot conceive of a commander-in-chief threatening to veto a bill that would save the Department of Defense from ruin,” said Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.), according to reports.

About the Author

Camille Tuutti is a former FCW staff writer who covered federal oversight and the workforce.

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