Reid faced questions about the composition of a bipartisan 12-Member joint Congressional committee tasked with finding at least $1.2 trillion in additional savings by Thanksgiving. Lawmakers on both sides are fearful that the panel will end in gridlock, which would kick off a series of across-the-board spending cuts to Medicare providers, defense spending and other programs.
Reid told reporters he has two weeks after the bill becomes law to appoint Members and that he talked briefly with Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) about the matter. The Nevada Democrat emphasized the need to select reasonable Members focused on reaching agreement and not people holding extreme beliefs or “who said gangs are a waste of time” in the first place.
Reid also said he had heard that House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) had indicated a willingness to increase revenue as part of the joint committee, but Cantor’s office denied Republicans are willing to consider tax increases.
Vice President Joe Biden waits to conduct a mock swearing-in ceremony with Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, in the Capitol's Old Senate Chamber, December 2, 2014. Schatz was sworn in to serve the remainder of his term since he was appointed to the seat after Sen. Daniel Inouye, D-Hawaii, passed away.