House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi said today that bipartisan talks to shrink the nation’s deficit must be largely wrapped up by week’s end, giving lawmakers just a few days to bridge significant gaps on entitlement reform and taxes.
“It’s this week, because effectively the rest of us are gone after that,” the California Democrat told reporters. “It doesn’t mean the committee members can’t still be working as far as communication.”
Pelosi also said that House Democratic negotiators on the super committee are continuing to push Republicans to include a series of jobs proposals in the final agreement.
“Yes, that’s my understanding. I don’t really know because I’m not in the room, but I know that’s part of the priorities of our House Democrats” on the panel, she said.
Pelosi’s comments came as House Ways and Means Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) and Budget ranking member Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.) were meeting behind closed doors to discuss the status of the negotiations.
Republicans have said they have been waiting for a new proposal from Democrats. When asked about the possibility of a new proposal, Van Hollen said, “As you can see, we’re continuing to have discussions.” However, it was unclear whether a formal proposal from Democrats was imminent.
House Republican Conference Chairman Jeb Hensarling (Texas), who is co-chairman of the super committee, is expected to brief rank-and-file Republicans Tuesday morning on the status of the talks.
Although a spokesman for Hensarling’s office did not return a request for comment, a Republican lawmaker tonight said he is expected to provide the most detailed briefing to date on the status of talks in order to gauge the temperature of his colleagues.
Despite the intense media attention and pressure from leadership on the panel to cut a deal, the super committee’s work has had little effect on rank-and-file Members.
The biggest problem, the Republican lawmaker said, has been the relative paucity of information related to the committee’s work. Although Hensarling, Co-Chairman Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), Camp, Van Hollen and other leaders on the committee have given their respective conferences periodic updates, they have largely been general in nature.
“We don’t have any details,” the Republican said, adding that the constant for House Republicans has been their insistence that revenue-raising measures not be included.
The committee’s work has not caught much attention from the public, limiting the kind of pressure from constituents that can prompt lawmakers to become more engaged.
But perhaps more fundamentally, Republican aides said, is the lack of a looming deadline for either chamber to act. The committee’s Nov. 23 deadline only applies to the dozen members of the panel; neither chamber is required to vote on any deal for weeks.
And with the House in particular taking up a series of high-profile issues this week — including a minibus appropriations measure with a short-term continuing extension, gun rights legislation, a balanced budget amendment and several jobs measures — lawmakers’ attention is simply elsewhere.
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