Feb. 5, 2016 SIGN IN | REGISTER

Leaders Meet as Clock Ticks

Chris Maddaloni/CQ Roll Call
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid changed strategies Tuesday, reflecting the urgency of trying to secure a deal through the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction.

The question of how leaders might guide the panel to an agreement, however, still looms large — especially given the difficulty they may have selling any plan to their rank and file.

Though leaders generally are still focused on a “big” deal that goes beyond the panel’s $1.2 trillion target, it appeared Tuesday that leaders and super committee members were just trying to come up with something that would prevent automatic cuts to defense, Medicare and domestic programs from taking effect in 2013.

One potential idea has been to find cuts that might be more politically palatable and produce a smaller package that would soften the blow of the “sequester” that would kick in should the super committee fail to find any agreement.

“No. 1, I’m not sure that a big deal is out of reach.  [But] No. 2, the idea would be to come up with a package that was, of course, preferable, to the sequester. Measured against the sequester, there are lots of better outcomes,” Van Hollen said. “The key is to be able to come together and find that formula, whatever sort of magic formula we can get that gets people together on that point.”

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