More than three months of negotiations ended in futility today as the co-chairmen of the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction declared in one statement what many in Washington had always assumed: The super committee could not reach agreement.
Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Rep. Jeb Hensarling (R-Texas) released a joint statement minutes after U.S. markets closed. The markets had been anticipating the announcement 24 hours in advance.
“After months of hard work and intense deliberations, we have come to the conclusion today that it will not be possible to make any bipartisan agreement available to the public before the committee’s deadline,” the co-chairmen said. “Despite our inability to bridge the committee’s significant difference ... we remain hopeful that Congress can build on this committee’s work and can find a way to tackle this issue in a way that works for the American people and our economy.”
The panel tasked with finding $1.2 trillion in savings over the next 10 years failed in its mission, meaning automatic, across-the-board cuts equal to that amount will be triggered in January 2013. Of those cuts, about $500 billion will come from defense spending — cuts Republicans especially have already vowed to roll back.
House Armed Services Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.) said in a statement that he does “not accept the outcome” of sequestration, even though the super committee failed to produce a package that would replace it. He said he would be introducing a bill to fight the defense sequester, as Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) have indicated they would do in the Senate.
“Secretary Panetta has said he doesn’t want to be the secretary who hollows out defense. Likewise, I will not be the Armed Services chairman who presides over crippling our military. I will not let these sequestration cuts stand,” McKeon said. “I will be introducing legislation in the coming days to prevent cuts that will do catastrophic damage to our men and women in uniform and our national security. Our military has already contributed nearly half a trillion to deficit reduction. Those who have given us so much have nothing more to give.”
Today was marked by an air of inevitability, as a handful of lawmakers of both parties appeared ready to deliver the super committee’s death knell on multiple Sunday morning talk shows. But as the clock wound down, other members of the super committee seemed compelled to live out the promise that they would work “until the stroke of midnight” to try to find a deal. The efforts were one part hope, two parts damage control for an impasse already being spun as the latest sign of Congressional dysfunction.