By Kate Bolduan
Top Senate Republicans are proposing eliminating part of the across-the-board and painful budget cuts required after the so-called super committee failed in November, according to two Senate Republican aides.
The Republicans instead want to achieve the required savings through extending a freeze on federal worker pay and cutting back the federal workforce through attrition, the aides said. Federal agencies would only be allowed to hire two people for every three retiring or leaving government employment.
The plan is backed by GOP Senators John McCain, Jon Kyl, Lindsay Graham and Kelly Ayotte.
The measures would cut $127 billion from the federal budget, effectively replacing the first year of savings that are scheduled to begin in 2013 and would hit most elements of the federal budget, including deep cuts to defense.
The senators have long been vocal opponents of the process, formally known as sequestration, and have vowed to find alternatives that would protect the Department of Defense from further cuts than it is already facing.
The bill, called "Down Payment to Protect National Security Act of 2012," is scheduled to be unveiled at a news conference Thursday morning.
The process was set in motion by the deal to raise the federal debt ceiling in August.
According to that agreement, the across-the-board cuts would be imposed if the so-called super committee failed to find an additional $1.2 trillion in deficit savings. The committee announced it could not reach agreement in late November.