The joint committee was part of a deal reached by House Republicans, Senate Democrats and the White House to raise the debt ceiling. The agreement included $917 billion in spending cuts over 10 years, and created the panel to find $1.5 trillion in additional deficit reduction by mid-November. Any bill that comes out of the committee would be voted on the House and Senate without amendment by about Christmas.
If they fail to reach agreement, a harsh $1.2 trillion automatic spending cut would be triggered. Van Hollen called it a “sword of Damocles hanging” over the committee and said that he believes it will motivate Members to reach a compromise. The panel can avoid the automatic cuts if it can agree on at least $1.2 trillion in savings.
United We Dream protesters carry a mock coffin to the office of Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Monday, July 21, 2014, to hold one of their "funeral services for the Republican Party" due to GOP positions on immigration. The immigration reform group visited several other Senate Republican offices to hold similar funeral services.