“Robust” bipartisan debt talks led by Vice President Joseph Biden will continue next week amid a backdrop of disappointing economic numbers.
Biden left the Capitol after Thursday’s meeting without talking to reporters. He has previously said that such silence is a sign of progress, and the meeting’s participants were similarly quiet.
House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) said the economic news “underscored the importance of this meeting that we just came out of. There’s a commitment for next week that we will be engaging, once again, in a robust series of meetings to see if we can achieve a result.”
Meanwhile, renewed talk of economic stimulus measures buzzed in the hallways of the Senate late Thursday. The goal is spurring job creation, and the ideas kicked around included extending or broadening a payroll tax break and new infrastructure spending.
But more spending, even if accompanied by spending cuts, isn’t likely to get much of a reception in GOP circles, and some Senators said they want more information on how the existing payroll tax break is working before they extend it.
Senate Budget Chairman Kent Conrad said Democrats are tweaking their own budget blueprint, which has not been released, if the bipartisan talks fall apart. That plan has been changed to reflect the weakening of the economy, the North Dakota Democrat added.
Sen. Ron Wyden said there could be talk of moving up a transportation bill to help spur the economy, but he rejected adopting more temporary tax breaks. Permanent changes are needed to spur confidence in hiring, the Oregon Democrat said, adding, “The growth tonic is bipartisan tax reform.”
The Biden meeting came after the bipartisan “gang of five” Senators met with about 20 Senators to give an update on their negotiations, which are getting closer to fruition, according to Conrad. But it’s still not clear when the group will produce a public product.
Rep. Elijah Cummings, D-Md., right, hugs Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters, after the Congressman spoke at the IAFF's Legislative Conference General Session at the Hyatt Regency on Capitol Hill, March 9, 2015. The day featured addresses by members of Congress and Vice President Joe Biden.