Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) on Wednesday vowed that the Joint Committee on Deficit Reduction would show results, after meeting in person with the GOP’s six panel members for the first time.
“Failure is not an option. This committee is going to succeed in meeting at least the floor that’s established in the legislation,” McConnell said.
“This is a very important committee. We’re committed that this committee get an outcome,” Boehner said.
One day before a high-profile jobs speech to a joint session of Congress by President Barack Obama, Boehner and McConnell argued that reducing the deficit by itself could boost the economy.
“We believe that by reducing our debt, we create a better environment to create jobs in America,” Boehner said.
“The country has a lot of problems related to spending and debt and we think that’s clearly having an adverse effect on the economy. I think the success that we expect this joint committee to have will be a boost to the country and begin to head us in the right direction,” McConnell said.
The remarks were the first public comments about the deficit panel made by Republicans, who huddled in committee Co-Chairman Jeb Hensarling’s (R-Texas)office in the Cannon building this morning. The panel’s six Democrats met across the Capitol in the Russell office building.
Boehner spokesman Kevin Smith said the Speaker and McConnell met with the panel members for about 30 minutes.
Smith said, “to [his] knowledge,” Obama hadn’t responded to a request by Boehner and House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) that the president consult with Congressional leaders on his Thursday speech. The two leaders made the request in a Tuesday letter to Obama.
Democratic members of the deficit panel met for hours Wednesday to strategize ahead of the panel’s initial meeting Thursday.
“We have had a very productive day of discussions,” Sen. Patty Murray, co-chair of the committee, said as she left the meeting. “I think that we all very much recognize that the public really wants us to solve these critical problems in a very serious way. We are prepared to do that. We will be going into our first meeting tomorrow to start moving our committee forward, and we intend to be working extremely hard over the next 10 weeks to put forward a proposal that helps put our country back on track.”
The Washington Democrat added that the committee is expected to pass a package of rules that have been vetted by the six Republican members.
“I expect we’ll be fine,” Murray said when asked whether the rules would be approved.
When asked whether the committee would go beyond its mandate to reduce projected growth in the deficit of $1.5 trillion over 10 years, she said, “That will all be decided as we move forward.”
She added, “We are putting everything on the table and have not ruled anything out.”
The joint panel holds its inaugural meeting Thursday, where it will organize and adopt formal rules.
Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, R-Ky., carries a musket on stage as he speaks during the American Conservative Union's Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) at National Harbor, Md., on Thursday March 6, 2014.