WASHINGTON - Less than a week before billions of dollars of US spending cuts are set to begin, governors meeting in Washington ratcheted up the pressure on Congress and President Barack Obama to find an alternative to the reductions and give states more say in bringing down the federal debt.

"I certainly join the chorus of voices that are calling for that administration and members of Congress to come together and find more responsible cuts," said Indiana Governor Mike Pence, a Republican who served in the House of Representatives during the 2011 negotiations that led to the cuts.

Congress is expected to return to work on Monday to try to forge an agreement on avoiding the cuts, which are known as sequester or sequestration and are intended to save $1.2 trillion over 10 years. At the end of 2012, lawmakers decided to push the sequester's start date back to March 1 from Jan. 1.

Hawaii Governor Neil Abercrombie, a Democrat who served in the House of Representatives for nearly 20 years, anticipates they will decide again to delay the start of the process.

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