Washington-area members of the House will ask their colleagues to reject a Senate plan that could result in about a 5 percent loss of Defense Department civilian positions, along with a similar cut in contractor jobs.

They have drafted a letter opposing that provision that is to be sent to House conferees who will work to resolve differences with the Senate over the defense budget, which typically is considered an annual “must-pass” bill.

The Senate version requires the department to make cuts in both its civilian federal employee and contracted support workforces that mirror the planned reductions in military personnel, particularly in the Army, over the next five years.

“This cut would result in a $5 billion loss in funding over five years for the Department and a ‘sequestration-style’ loss of federal positions in the range of 18,000 to 36,000 personnel,” says the letter.

Signatories so far are Maryland Democrats Chris Van Hollen, Elijah Cummings, Steny H. Hoyer and Donna F. Edwards; Virginia Democrats James Moran and Gerald E. Connolly; Rep. Frank Wolf (R-Va.); and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.).

The Senate, in passing its defense bill, recently defeated an amendment seeking to drop the requirement, which sponsors say would merely require that the civilian side of the department be reduced along with the military functions it supports.

However, the provision was one of several that the White House objected to in threatening to veto the Senate bill, and an unusual pairing of the American Federation of Government Employees, which represents many DoD civilian employees, and the Professional Services Council, representing contractors, is working to defeat it.

“Federal personnel perform key functions such as equipment modernization, medical care, family support, base operations and infrastructure services and other vital support functions for our men and women in uniform,” the letter says. “Accordingly, the process of cutting the civilian and contractor workforce at the Department of Defense must not be done in an arbitrary and haphazard fashion.”