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Republicans Will Highlight Defense Sequester

Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call File Photo
Sen. Kelly Ayotte is part of a group of Republican Senators calling for an examination of the effects the defense sequester would have on military programs.

Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.), who is also among the group of concerned Senators, said the hope is that the report will motivate lawmakers to act.

“If they put pen to paper we think [it will be], first of all, transparency for the American people so they know where these cuts are going to be made and also, frankly, a wake-up call for Members of Congress for their district, their state, so they will know what’s coming,” Ayotte said.

The amendment “is already in the [fiscal 2013] defense authorization bill, but the concern is that the defense authorization will not get voted on soon enough,” Ayotte said, underscoring that the Senators will seek to attach it to any vehicle that comes to the floor.

The 2012 defense authorization wasn’t signed into law until Dec. 31, 2011.

In a speech on the Senate floor Tuesday, Ayotte cited a study from George Mason University that said the cuts could cost 1 million jobs, including 123,000 from Virginia, 39,000 from Florida, 36,000 from Pennsylvania, 34,000 from Connecticut, 18,000 from Ohio and 11,000 from North Carolina.

“One million jobs wakes me up,” she said off the Senate floor.

There is also concern from contractors about being able to comply with the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act, which requires them to give at least 60 days notice before laying off workers or “they have to keep them on the rolls and pay them,” Ayotte said.

“That is one of the difficulties, too,” Ayotte said. “I have heard from many of them that they are likely to have to issue them before the election.”

Ayotte said the U.S. Conference of Mayors contacted her to raise questions about the economic impact of the cuts. By her calculations, the National Guard could see a cut of 50,000, which would affect states and cities during national disasters.

Sens. John Thune (S.D.) and Lindsey Graham (S.C.) also spoke Tuesday on the floor about the amendment.

It’s unlikely the amendment will get a vote on the farm bill, because Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) moved Tuesday to block all amendments to the bill.

A Senate Republican aide said Senate Democrats appear to have given up legislating on big issues until after the elections.

“It’s a good idea to try to solve big problems, but Reid has said it’s only going to be small ball,” the aide said. “Democrats don’t want to take any tough votes before the election.”

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